Tag Archives: One Stop Poetry

Thursday Thoughts: Freeverse + Freewriting

9:57 a.m. — Walnut Creek

Hello, gang. We have a reader suggestion today, from Viv: a discussion of freewriting, to which I added free verse, as there are people who confuse the two.

First, let’s deal with free verse. It’s not free. What the people who coined the term meant was free of metre and end rhyme. Everything else that goes into writing a strong poem still comes into play and, because we have taken metre and end rhymes out, we have to be more conscious of where we break the lines and of internal rhyme. And, the poem still needs a rhythm that works. Hmmm. I’m beginning to think we should rename it. If you missed the post on free verse over at One Stop Poetry it’s well-worth visiting and reading. An excellent essay on free verse.

Freewriting is free of all constraints. It is a strategy that works for many people [not me…sigh] either as a kickstart or a restart. When I began my blog last year, I wrote about it. Here, updated, is what I said:

Almost any writer on writing will tell you: write write write do not stop write do not edit write do not stop write write write. The problem most of us have is that we have a self-censor sitting on one of our shoulders. This censor says That sounds silly. That’s not grammatical. What kind of syntax is that? Did you put a comma in there? Did you spell that long word correctly? What kind of image is that? It doesn’t make sense. Enough of that and you will talk yourself into not writing.

If your mind goes blank because you are trying so hard not to self-censor, or your mind just goes blank, don’t stop. Keep writing the last word you wrote over and over again. Your brain won’t like that and will kick back in. The surrealist writers believed that they had to reach a state beyond reality in order to find and write that which is true. What we call freewriting developed from them.

Ideally you want to write several pages without stopping. If you can do that you will find when you go back through that your mind and hand have taken you down many paths. You can choose one of the paths to follow knowingly, or choose words and phrases that speak to you and pull them out as a seed to a possible poem.

Rather than setting a time, I have found it easier to set yourself a number of pages. If you have never done this before, start with two pages and write. If it will help, pick a topic, but then don’t worry or panic if you notice that instead of writing about whales, you are writing about hot air balloons. Your brain made some kind of connection. Go with it. It may take you wondrous places.

Things not to worry about: grammar, spelling, sense, punctuation. That can all come later. Use what you are most comfortable with: computer, pen, pencil. Above all: if handwriting, do not stop the movement of your hand. Studies have found a direct correlation with the movement of the hand and creativity. Computer people, don’t panic. While the creative process works differently, these studies do not mean you have to change your modus operandi. When freewriting if you hit a stop point hit any key and keep it up until your brain starts again.

The object of freewriting is not to come up with a poem but to loosen the creative juices; if you get a poem from the process = bonus.

Remember: You need to write before you can write well. You need to have written something before you can worry about revision. You have to write before you can craft.

Let’s start with that and if you want me to address a specific aspect, ask. I can already see a couple of areas we can delve into further, but this post is long enough.

I will see you tomorrow for the week’s roundup of prompts; Tuesday for the next form; and next Thursday is open so far. If anyone has a suggestion, an idea they want me to discourse on, please let me know. Writing on reader generated topics has quickly become something I look forward to working on. Thank you, Viv, for this one.

Happy writing all.


Posted by on 14/07/2011 in poetry, writing


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Friday Freeforall: It Has Been That Kind of Week

8:09 am, Friday, 11 February, 2011 – Atlanta

I feel like I have been through a month this week. Am glad to have reached Friday in one piece.

We start with Donna Vorreyer’s Poetry Tow Truck. I know I keep saying her prompts are fun but…her prompts are fun. In part, Donna says: Today’s exercise leans on some of our most prized possessions to help us draft. Take a look at your bookshelf (or the stack next to your bed…or next to your couch…you get the idea). Write down six to ten titles. Go to the tow truck to learn more.

Next, we drop by Writer’s Island where they wish us to “beguile the time” [Macbeth]. Look up beguile. It has some interesting definitions to play with. The Island lists a few.

This week, Carry on Tuesday features a quote from pianist Arthur Rubinstein. To read the line and to hear some music, stop by.

At Sunday Scribblings, we have more than a one word prompt this week: I know we’ve had “Bedtime Stories” before, but this is an altogether more grown-up prompt. Intrigued? Go over and see the rest of the prompt.

One Single Impression offers a single word prompt accompanied by a photograph and an allusion to Matthew 11:28-30.

I always head for Big Tent with a lift of the heart. There is something about a circus…They start their prompt with: Got the blues? I do. And I can’t stop whining about it. Winter has me down, baby. Really down. Are you blue about anything? It doesn’t have to be winter (some of you live where it’s summer now). It can be anything. Now go to the circus for the rest of the prompt.

Our colourful Jingle Poetry offers us Aims, Goals and Ambitions with accompanying video for inspiration in their Poetry Potluck. Next week: Love, Bonds and Relationships!

Over at Poets & Writers they have an interesting prompt. That’s all I am going to say. You will have to go there to see it. It’s tricky but if you have the right poem could be fun.

There is a particularly evocative photograph on Magpie Tales. The colours, the winter scene, and the house looking deserted…

Three Word Wednesday has their three words and definitions. I am almost more intrigued with working a poem from the definitions they give us each week, than the words themselves.

And, definitely head over to We Write Poems because they have a personal challenge this week. At first I thought, Well, not for me…too difficult. But the prompt has been working on me and I may give it a go. They start with : Happy Valentines! Out of the fire and into the frying pan! We’ll let you write whatever valentines to your sweethearts as you wish. What we’re asking this week is that you write a valentine message to yourself! How can you not go look at the rest?

The Thursday Think Tank at Poets United ends their prompt with : Take a little time and think about what the shadows around you represent. Look at your surroundings and see what shadows inspire in your imagination. They also have three photographs and a quote from Elie Wiesel to spark our thinking.

And our anchor site One Stop Poetry. They offer plenty of inspiration in a variety of forms, but I still have a hard time navigating around. They have a seemingly nifty feature where you can hover your mouse over Features and Articles, but when I clicked on one it took me to an About page, not the page itself. If one of my readers has cracked the code I would love to hear from them.

And, if you have not visited the new networking site for writers, Writing Our Way Home, come take a look. We are up to 220 members and counting. It’s quite an enterprise. My page [if you can see it without joining] is here.

Have a good weekend. Take time to write, or at least look at things with an eye to writing about them.



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Posted by on 11/02/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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Friday Freeforall: Roundup

8:50 am, Friday, 14 January, 2011 – Atlanta

Snow weeks make for long weeks. If you are still snowed in, or rained in, this group of prompts and exercises will keep you busy and off the streets! As always, visit the sites, as I give you the bare bones of what is on offer. The sites give you the whole body [sorry – had to keep with the metaphor].

Over at Writer’s Island they want us to find our Destiny.


Donna Vorreyer’s Poetry Tow Truck 2 has another fun exercise, to do with colours. She says, in part: Now, I know that many of you purists out there don’t watch television – some of you don’t even own one! But most television shows work hard to be visually appealing, and writers can always exercise their observation skills. For those of you, like me, who like an exercise laid out, Donna explains and gives an example.

Sunday Scribblings wants us to take on a walk in the park, but not necessarily a literal walk.

Carry on Tuesday‘s quote this week is a line from Tupac Shakur. In addition to their suggestions, you can also try the Poetry Tow Truck’s prompt 1.

If you like single word prompts without leading questions bounce over to One Single Impression, or Three Word Wednesday.

Big Tent has another creative prompt and while today is posting day, if you haven’t seen the prompt, it’s worth trying. Their exercise is in two parts and here is some of what they tell us for the first part: Ask your friend alliteration to help you write a word list. Pick one letter of the alphabet and set down a bunch of words (at least 8 or 9) that begin with your chosen letter. (Hint: When you pick your letter consider the energy in its sound. Do you want to work with a clipped and energetic c or k? How about a playful p? Is soothing or melodic on your mind, or would you like to point it in that direction? Try the singable consonants m or n. Do you want to howl or moan? O and a might be your friend this week.)

I always get lost on Jingle Poetry‘s site but I think I have the correct link. They have the past and future prompt together. Their prompt for the past week is to do with journeys and the routes we choose. The prompt for the next few days is: Languages, Signs, and Symbols. The link for posting goes up on Sundays.

Poets & Writers has a fun exercise if you haven’t done an erasure poem before. Go on over to their site to read the directions.

I love Magpie Tales image which is a piece of sheet music. If images sometimes don’t work for you, try freewriting the image for a while and see what happens.


One Stop Poetry, where you never know what you will find and so is worth visiting every day, has a musical prompt today. I offered an exercise like this last month; if you go here, you can check it out. Then try Brian Miller’s piece at One Stop. On Monday One Stop will be talking about a poetic form, so stop by then. The past two weeks they have dealt with haiku.


We Write Poems asks us:  to write a poem that is a conversation between two people. It can be imaginary, or one based on an actual experience. Read the whole prompt on their site. This one can be fun.

Poets United wants us to: step outside the normal pursuit of poetry and use a random piece of art found at deviantArt. Read the whole prompt, as they do have an interesting caveat.

If you still haven’t thrown a stone in the river, I encourage you to do so. It doesn’t matter that you have missed a few. I have found the routine of a small stone is invaluable.

And that does us for this week. May your weekend be fruitful in some way. If it involves words and writing them down, that’s a bonus.  If you are here for the first time you can also visit this site for this week’s exercise. I will see you on Tuesday for our next foray into writing.



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Posted by on 14/01/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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