Develop a writing routine

Free-writing isn't what you think it least not completely.

By Kris Windley

Hate reading? Want to listen to my gravelly-ass Voice instead?

I made a podcast version of this post

You can follow the podcast on iTunes, Player FM, Google Play, Spotify and more.

Listen to the audio podcast of this post.

Or read the article below, like the cranky luddite you are.

What is free-writing?

Right. That’s a good starting point isn’t it? If you’re not familiar with the way I suggest you use free-writing, here’s a short primer.

Free-writing is a perfect first step for people who want to be able to write without enduring that feeling – you know the one:

  • The drop in the pit of your stomach when you think about the blank, white page,
  • The heart rate that accelerates just enough to make you sweat,
  • The voice inside your head that can think of at least 5 things you *need* to be doing right now, instead of writing.

That feeling is stopping you from writing the words you need to write.

It could be holding you back in your job or your business – even though you know writing well will make your work SO much more effective and successful.

Or maybe that feeling is be stopping you from writing the book you’ve got hiding inside of you – or the world-changing e-magazine you’ve been dreaming about creating.

Poetry – Screen plays – Novels – Children’s Books – Biographies – Autobiographies – You name it!

And free-writing will help you to do those things, by helping you to silence the nasty judgemental gremlin in your head.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Free-writing is simply an effective way to practice writing un-important stuff without judging yourself, so you can someday write important stuff without having an aneurism from stress.” quote=”Free-writing is simply an effective way to practice writing un-important stuff without judging yourself, so you can someday write important stuff without having an aneurism from stress.”]

You sit down with a notebook and a pen or pencil, and you write. You write without rules or a preset plan, and just let those unplanned words hit the page (and here comes the hard part) without judging yourself for the way they splatter.

It’s as simple and as hard as that.

If you want to read more about free-writing, check out this post: “Start Free-Writing now & Finally Set Your Pen Free.”

So that’s what it is…what is it not?

So, there are a lot of things that we might assume when we start to talk about free-writing. Those assumptions will stop you from actually getting the good stuff from your free-writing, or they might even stop you from trying! And that’s just stealing from yourself, so check this out.

Thing 1: Free-writing isn’t a competition.

I call it a challenge to help me show up every day, but the #30DaysWithaK free-writing challenge isn’t about competing. It’s about challenging yourself to show up every day for something that is only going to do good things for you.

It’s not something you need to share (though community support can help you keep going), and you certainly shouldn’t compare your work or progress against someone else’s.

Remember the biggest rule of free-writing? Yeah…no judging your words here, friends – especially in comparison to someone else’s. That works against all of the benefits of the thing, so cut it out!

Free-writing not something you can win, and it’s not something you can lose either. You show up and explore the ideas, and you learn to let your thoughts and words just be what they are, without needing or wanting excellence.

Because if you’re trying to win (even against yourself), you won’t trust the things that come into your glorious, creative mind to do what they want and pour onto the page. And trust is an ENORMOUS part of the writing process.

Read this post about the importance of trusting yourself as a writer: Stop trying to find your voice – try trusting it instead.

Thing 2: Free-writing isn’t about Perfection.

There is no need for perfect words or perfect sentences, and there are no perfect feelings or experiences for you to have.

You don’t need to wake up fresh-faced and filled with creative abandon, before pulling out a perfect notebook and pen and writing the most perfect and astonishing prose.

This is a practice – which means that it’s designed to be a place for you to fuck up. You’re supposed to put in the time here, where the outcome doesn’t affect anything or anyone in your life, and let the benefits of that practice get there on their own time.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Being a beginner isn’t a bad thing! It’s freeing and fun, and means that you can be playful and find joy in the thing.” quote=”Being a beginner isn’t a bad thing! It’s freeing and fun, and means that you can be playful and find joy in the thing.”]

Read this interview I did with a friend of mine about the joys and importance of practice: Enjoy the practice and embrace your beginning.

Thing 3: Free-writing isn’t about completing (or even starting) a project.

The pressure that comes with the whole process of putting together a creative project…it can hamstring your creativity.

Focusing on a word count or a deadline can send your Voice right back into the darkest hide-y holes in your mind, so we don’t want to use that during this particular practice.

Illustration of a checklist on a clipboardFree-writing and #30DaysWithaK isn’t ever about word count or checking another job off the list.

It’s only for you – for your words and your paper to get comfy together – for no other reason!

Because I know how fast that kind of pressure to be and do and create everything amazing can kill the romance. It can make you resent your Voice and the idea you had in the first place, and it can send you packing – far away from all notebooks and laptops and typewriters you see.

And I don’t want you to feel that way about your Voice! I want you to appreciate the quirky and love the sweet and even find endearing the weird – because from that you will learn to trust…and then the most amazing things will come to the surface.

And Thing 4: Free-writing is certainly not about adding more work to your life.

This is a gift you can give to yourself. Ohmigosh I know that’s cliché…but it’s true!

You’ll be building a muscle and toning an ability to show up to the page without scars and hindrances and drama keeping the words sucked in and hiding. That’s so so lovely, and it will actually help to remove the “work”ness of writing for you.

You practice every day – not writing beautifully – but writing compassionately.

You allow the words to come without judgement, so that when you are drafting an actual piece, you will be able to do the same and let the creative part of you play.

It should take 15 minutes or less to do the thing every day, and it should be a relatively pleasant 15 minutes – particularly after you’ve thought about the things we cover in the #30DaysWithaK challenge and built it into a warm and lovely ritual.

So start the practice of free-writing with the #30DaysWithaK Challenge.

That ability to trust your Voice and playfulness will make your serious writing time far more effective…and more fun! You’ll be able to play creatively again, knowing that you can come back and edit later. Because that’s how a solid writing process works, right?

So join me next week (or any time) for the #30DaysWithaK free-writing challenge!

I’m kicking it off again with a live run through together to celebrate the fact that I’m back at it around here. I know that I sure need to practice that whole non-judgemental writing thing, so let’s do it together.

See you then!


Sign up for the #30DaysWithaK Free-Writing Challenge right now:


Kris is a writer, editor, illustrator, teacher, mother of two amazing young ladies - and enthusiastic cat-belly snuggler. A certified teacher, long-time blogger and experienced brand consultant, she writes about Writing, Business and Blogging...and sometimes about Changing the World.


If you want to get an email from me when I send words & doodles into the void, sign up here.

I won't sell your stuff or send you SPAM, because I'm not a jerk & I hate confrontation.

You mad? You excited? Just have a need to share? Please do!

Let's have a conversation - not just me, shouting into the Void.


  1. Indre on November 13, 2018 at 2:29 am

    Aww, glad to have you back in my inbox! (We are spending too much time repinning political stuff on FB m’thinks!) It’ll be good to spend that time writing instead. I’ll join the challenge!

    • KrisWithaK on November 13, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Aw Indre!

      You are one of my favourite facebook agree-ers 🙂 But yes – back to the task at hand, right? Life is for creating, and activists need to live too. Don’t forget to join the FB group too, so our FB shares can be happier.


  2. Katie M. on November 13, 2018 at 1:06 am

    Kris – the podcast format is purrrrfect for you! Love it!!!! Now I can truly have a Kris in my pocket at all times ☺️

    • KrisWithaK on November 13, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Bahaha! I just had a cartoon vision of a tiny me, peeking out of your jacket pocket at the library, like a fraggle. I need to practice my human illustrations, so I can draw all of the silly things for you!


      • Katie M. on November 14, 2018 at 10:45 am

        YES! Fraggle Kris!!!!

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