Task #2: Free writing to music

Task #2: Free writing to music

A lot of writing courses feature activities about “free writing.” This basically means writing without thinking. It can be hard to produce anything creative if you’re worried about getting it wrong, so sometimes it’s helpful to turn off the critical part of your brain and just let ideas flow out without worry.

The aim of this activity is to keep writing even if you run out of ideas. Don’t worry if it's not good, don’t worry if it makes sense since you won’t have to share it. Choose some music – four songs will do – and decide what you’re going to write for the duration of all four songs. (I sometimes think it's best if its slightly unusual music or music that you’re not too familiar with - but that’s up to you.)  

Once you start writing don’t stop until all four songs have completed. If you get stuck or can’t think of what to write just repeat the last thing you wrote again and again until you think of something. Some writers I know choose to write “I am still writing” again and again until they find something to write about.  

I lead this activity recently with a group of writers and the four songs I chose were:   

  • Bon Iver – Best/Rest 
  • The Beatles – Happiness in a Warm Gun  
  • Anonhi – Four Degrees  
  • You & Me – No Ordinary Love  

 

You don’t have to use these songs but it might be useful to avoid singing along to songs you’re very familiar with (I’m aware that The Beatles aren’t that unfamiliar).  

Once you’ve finished this activity, read it back aloud either with company or just to yourself. Has anything interesting appeared? Are there bits you like? Did any rhythms appear that you found satisfying?  

Free writing isn’t for everyone. Some writers I know love it and others hate it. But it is useful to be able to write freely without worry and self-censorship. Sometimes you just need to try writing something before you know if it’s a good idea or worth pursuing further.  

It’s worth saying that there’s a great version of this task written by the wonderful writer Tom Wells on Middle Child’s blog. They’re releasing a task every Wednesday so definitely check that out. You can find it here: https://www.middlechildtheatre.co.uk/2020/03/25/playwriting-with-tom-wells-1-voice/  

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