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Thursday, 27 June 2019 09:33

Mastering the art of freewriting

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SF: It can generate the best ideas, insight and contentSOLID writing skills still represent the core foundation in education. It is normal for young minds to think of unresolved issues as they are bidding for answers to local problems, global opportunities, and, of course, vacancies in the job market.

Freewriting about those matters relieves the stress of inhibition which is detrimental to psychological wellbeing. It also helps teachers to form greater perspectives with students as they seek self-understanding, trust and confidence.

(Freewriting is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar or topic. It produces raw thoughts and helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism.)

The present state of education allows school teachers to use countless digital tools — ranging from GoogleDocs, Hemmingway Editor, Grammarly — to teach key writing skills. They understand that the central pillar in freewriting offers excellent writing experience, and they know writing remains the requisite to flourish in the working world. Further, the rise of digital tools makes freewriting available to anyone, particularly with schools now emphasising collaborative online activities to work alongside students.

The digital age has given rise to a new breed of writers — content writers, copywriters, bloggers, and reviewers. They are indeed creating a powerhouse in the writing industry.

Nevertheless, the success of students who want to pursue a career in writing, be it academic and beyond, depends on their insightful use of keywords, their opinions and attempts to persuade the reader, their creativity and ability to tell fact or fiction, and the use of five senses to paint a picture for the reader.

Freewriting is a fast method of drafting new ideas that enable students to think — a skill that often elevates one’s thinking capabilities by training one’s mind to think fast and focus on the topical and utilitarian aspects of the subject of one’s concerns. Done properly, it helps teachers to understand students’ perspectives about topical issues that are usually difficult to penetrate in daily interaction.

Early exposure to this technique of writing may also lead to the mastery of other writing styles, including literary, prose, poem, academic, business, technical, and translation.

Notwithstanding the impressive work of one’s mind to think, it is also easily turned into a lazy mode, especially because of the massive penetration of the Internet of Things into one’s life. Left to its own, the mind may also be inclined to recycle thoughts, copy and paste (plagiarism) other works, and resort to poor assumptions and cynicism. In a culture that favours truncated forms of expression, brief messages, abbreviation, Internet slang, students are not willing to write at length.

Furthermore, free access to the Internet prevents the love for reading books, critical thinking, and face-to-face conversation.

It is believed that the solution to this problem is in freewriting as it pushes the brain to think longer, deeper before one comes up with the big idea. Furthermore, the point of freewriting is not to come up with the correct answer, but the valuable lesson here is to use it to generate the best ideas, insight and content.

To ensure the desired results of freewriting, and to benefit students in the long run, trainers need to observe the three golden rules:

One, the act of recording reflective notes about what the writer has written in the text. This point suggests that abstract ideas have always been about developing new concepts and making sense of the relationship between them. In the initial stage of freewriting, the writer is an “accidental genius”, as he switches his indefinite attention to form opinions per se. This internal mind of exploration is a creative process to generate reams of ideas in order to form a hypothesis about a specific concern.

Two, the act of identifying a significant passage in the text. This speaks more about the writer’s recurring ideas, inclination, and future ideas. Often in a normal process of writing a draft for a review, for instance, the writer stops to question its acceptance to the wider audience. But in rule two of freewriting, it bypasses that tendency as one owns the freedom to explore more ideas, identifying significant points, and processing information. There is no fear of rejection in this particular period of exploration as one continues to break through ideas and solutions.

Three, the act of writing a specific topic as students pour ideas for a limited amount of time. By allowing students to free-write within a specific time, they will come up with a fresh interpretation of a specific topic, forcing them to think fast and write a key point to connect with different points in the text. This technique aims to teach students to focus by paying attention to every single word, sentence structure, and linguistic rules. It also teaches them how to refine the text, and make a distinction between fact and reality.

DR ADHA SHALEH is a research fellow at International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia

Published in: New Straits Times, Thursday 27 June 2019

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