Freewriting Anyone?

What is the difference between writing and editing?

I tell you what, apart from the spelling, I never actually thought there is any major difference between the two. Of course we all know what writing is. Heck, I’m doing just that this very minute. But what you didn’t know was that just two seconds ago, I had wriiten ‘butt’ instead of ‘but’. Now that’s editing.

I attended this writing course today, yea.. How geeky. So anyways, our instructor was this charming and eloquent of a man who holds a PhD in Chemistry but there he was, all confident and actually very good at explaining to us on how to get into the habit of writing.

One of the most useful technique I learnt today was ‘freewriting’, where given five minutes and a prompt question, you just write. Write about anything, without stopping and without succumbing to that need of correcting your grammar. The key is to keep on writing, in complete sentences of course, and that you do not re-read what you have just written. Only do that after you finish. Sounds easy? Why don’t you give it a try? Thing is, our body or writing muscle, if there is such a thing, works in this system that overly supersedes our intelligence. I don’t know about the rest of you but I have this itch of always, always stopping every 4 to 5 sentences to look back and, I dunno, admire my writing (??).. Pretty sad, but I can’t help it. That will ultimately lead me to cross out some words here and there, or replace whole new sentences altogether.. The minute you do that, you ain’t a ‘freewriter’. You’re a ‘structurer’ a.k.a boring, dull writers.

Now there’s nothing wrong with the latter. I’ve been doing just that the past 28 years of my life and I think I’m doing a-okay. It’s just that at times when you have a deadline, such as a thesis of 100,000 words to be written in three years, that may require a bit of work.

So you may be thinking, what’s so hard about that? Primary school kids could write 80 words in half an hour, so what’s stopping you postgrads from writing that much in three years? Know what? I totally agree. Say we spend 5 days a week writing (leave the weekends to partayyy..), so in 3 years, we’d have 720 days. If we were to produce 100,000 words, that’ll just require us to scribble about 149 words a day. I might be writing that much in my blog entries.. So not too shabby, right? Wrong.

In academic writing, the ‘fun’ isn’t really fun in a normal sense. That’s why we get Professors smiling to themselves down the hallway or a PhD candidate bumps her head as she walks into the kitchen.. But that’s just me. In formulating a model, for instance, we’d be in this constant state of obscurity. Blur-like sotong. Only we know (sometimes we don’t) what we’re talking about and the goal is to make everyone find it fun and understandable as well. So given that hazy abstract in our heads, to put it on paper, well, as I said, will require a lot of work.

That was why this ‘freewriting’ style may be of use to me.. Hopefully I’d be able to break that unhealthy habit of editing in the middle of me writing, so that all my ideas will be able to flow freely without that constant urge of making the perfect piece.

I guess it did work.. a bit. I mean, I only looked back twice *wink*


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