Freewriting is an invention activity many writers find helpful. It is “free” in that the writer turns off all concerns about adhering to the various rules and conventions of Standard English. Therefore, thoughts about grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax, coherence, complete sentences–even “making sense” can be forgotten for a time while the writer simply generates text.
Many compositionists believe that this invention technique is theoretically sound, especially for writers who are not experts, based on the fact that people regularly have difficulty inventing or discovering ideas if they are simultaneously trying to “get it right.”
Expert writers can often generate ideas and have them come out “right” at the same time, simply because they have had so much practice composing syntactically “legal” sentences which are also punctuated in accordance with the rules of Standard English.
Many student writers still need to attend carefully to the task of crafting sentences to make them “correct” on various levels. That attention can interfere with the effort to “come up with something.” That’s where freewriting can help.
Faculty who assign freewriting often specify a time length or word volume for students to produce, but are careful not to evaluate freewriting in any way. In order to foster greater freedom for the authors, many instructors do not collect freewrites, or ask students to share their freewrites with the class, but, instead, ask students to underline at least one word, phrase, or sentence from their freewrites that they value for some reason, and ask for volunteers to share those “nuggets” with the class.