How to free the writer within by Joy Lenton

I'm sharing an example of free writing to reveal how it can lead to freer thinking. It's received wisdom that writers do free writing of first thoughts when barely awake because this helps stir their latent creativity.

Mine would be a blur of fatigue and brain-fog in the morning hours, so these free writing exercises are last thoughts done at day's end.

The potential benefits of free writing are to increase a natural flow of words when blocked or stalled and unleash deeper, natural creativity.

This is an inspiring suggestion made by Natalie Goldberg in her acclaimed book, 'Writing Down the Bones:Freeing the Writer Within'.

These unedited exercises tend to be building blocks I set aside for future use.

Here are two examples of the results of timed free writing exercises I have undertaken. I offer them with a little trepidation and with the hope they will encourage you to have a go...

"Susurration of night sounds hisses in my ears. I can feel the creep of cold from window and street.

Detached as I am from activity, I am free to ponder. Rooted to bed, to page, to blankness; wedded to the written word.

Writing has become stream of consciousness spreading itself, splashing like tears blurring ink.

I try to think because that's what I do, but thinking is too constrained, too disciplined for this emptying of the mind.

I think too much as it is, my mind a constant whirr, reeling back and forth, projecting images to accept or reject on the cinema screen of my mind.

I long to be calm - it's bedtime after all - but today has sapped all my energy and I'm depleted, wrung ragged when I run on empty.

I long to feel replete, full of contentment. Instead, as I hunker down, scribing black on white, I sense disquiet sitting mouse-like on the inside of me.

It's a pipsqueak of protest venting aloud without a sound. My heart's yearnings are speaking."

"Sat within the lap of time and space, I reach for a reason to write out my heart. Seek a way forward when I'm stalled and plans fall apart.

Maybe this...this going with the flow will release a new stream in me? 

I want to wrap love up in paper as I sift gifts to give, choose a present to represent my idea of what will appeal to the recipient.

Will they be touched and sense the way I've thought of them? 

Or will they dismiss, simply shrug a perfunctory word of gratitude when their mind has an alternative attitude?

It's hard to judge what others desire to have. Most of the things that matter most can't be bought, only freely given.

My deepest longing is not to miss the most important things. Like the love letters God strews along my path each day.

It requires more of an inner listening and alertness than necessarily noticing with physical eyes."


All inspiration comes from God and He reveals the ways we can express ourselves best as we write and give Him the glory for everything.

Sometimes we just need a nap or a rest break to replenish our creative juices. 

Sometimes we need to spend more time with God and wait on His perfect timing.

What helps to restore the flow for you when writing feels hard to do?

Joy Lenton is a grateful grace dweller, contemplative Christian writer and poet who is currently working on her first anthology. 

She enjoys encouraging others at her blogs and as she seeks to discover the poetic in the prosaic and the eternal in the temporal. You can connect with her on Twitter, or on Facebook.


  1. Thank you for this inspiring piece, Joy. I don't think that you need to worry that you will miss the things that God has placed all around; I think He has given you ears to hear and eyes to see as well as the gift of gently opening others' eyes to those treasures through your words.

    1. Thank you for your kind encouragement, Helen. Maybe having a life where resting and being still for long periods are prerequisites is beneficial after all! My hope and prayer is always to help others to see the light of God's presence and find hope and encouragement in the words I share. x

  2. My biggest issue is finding time and head-space to write - but I'm interested in your suggestion of free-writing. Maybe that would help me to use what time I have more effectively! Thanks for being willing to share your words with us.

    1. I agree, Fiona, those can be challenges to writing as we want to. The beauty of free writing is that you can choose the best time of day for you and set your own time limits. The idea is not to have any preconceived ideas or topics but to just go with the flow. It doesn't have to be perfect and no eyes need ever see the results. It's a little like journalling, I guess, but trying not to think before you write. I hope you're inspired by my efforts to have a go for yourself! Thanks for reading and responding. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing this idea. I have not considered this kind of thing before. I might try it.

  4. Thank you for sharing this idea. I have not considered this kind of thing before. I might try it.

    1. You're welcome,Lynda. I've found trying out new ways of writing can often be freeing. Sometimes that means different styles and forms of poetry, or maybe timed prose writing on a theme can help.


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