Free writing

Free writing is not a well-defined term, although scholarly essays sometimes equate free writing with spontaneous, creative, associative or improvisational writing.

Freelance writing plays an important role as a concept, especially in school, but has recently come under criticism, especially in recent times. The concept is based on the idea of  having students write freely, without pressure, compulsion or the fear of corrections or assessments restricting their creativity and willingness to write.

The basic principle

In order to understand the basic principle of free writing, a distinction must first be made between the various writing concepts. One variant is the so-called normalized writing, which is also referred to as bound or instructed writing.

This writing concept is based on clear instructions that apply to the particular writing task and the writing tasks must meet the basic requirements, ie the applicable standard. Such writing tasks include, for example, discussions, minutes or business letters, reports or applications.

Instructions for free writing

All of these writing tasks are written according to a specific manual, which specifies the form, content, structure and linguistic design. The disadvantage of this writing concept is that there is only limited space for your own creativity.

Nevertheless, it is important for students to learn standardized writing, for example in the sense that it plays a significant role in later professional life.

Another writing concept is creative writing based on a literary model:

Here, a document forms the basis for the actual writing task, such as a novel or a poem. Strictly speaking, the writing task then contains two tasks, because in order to be able to solve the writing task, the present text must first be analyzed and interpreted.

This writing concept allows for a bit more creativity and imagination than standardized writing, but still has to fit in with the content and style of the original. Therefore, to teach students the creative writing on a template, it makes sense to work in small steps.

So one possible exercise would be to retell a template from another perspective, or to ask students to integrate a new character into the story.

Rules and norms

Free writing now means that students can write that and in the form they want. This means that in the course of free writing, one’s own ideas and thoughts can be put on paper without having to adhere to strict rules or standards.

So a poem does not have to rhyme, a story does not have to deal with a fixed topic and a letter does not have to be written in a certain style. At the forefront of the idea of  creative writing is the intention to encourage students to write and to use the language.

To give the necessary impulses, there are different tips, for example, by working with music, pictures, light or different objects, from which the students can then develop their ideas and thoughts. The arguments in favor of free writing are that, among other things, it promotes creativity, expressiveness, self-image and writing skills.

Spelling and Grammar

Critics argue, however, that the results are hard to predict and comparatively limited, as student performance and motivation play a key role. Moreover, it is often assumed that free writing, detached from the basic idea of  evaluations and corrections, does not give importance to aspects such as style or spelling.

This is not correct. Of course, spelling and grammar do not settle on their own at some point and of course teachers and parents should and may point out mistakes.

However, this should be done carefully to avoid frustration. Free writing is intended to provide an introduction to writing and the joy of writing.

However, this requires students to be motivated and encouraged to let their minds go and hold onto paper without being slowed down by potential mistakes.