What is freenoting? Basically it is the practice of writing daily for 10 minutes or more without editing or backtracking to correct what you’ve written. The term freenoting was coined by Win Wenger Ph.D.
It is a simple technique that unlocks your unconscious mind, helping you to remember things, solve problems and generate ideas. To start, take a blank piece of paper or open a new document on your computer and just start writing. Allow the words to tumble out. You can write about anything, whatever might be on your mind at the time, just start, keep writing and see what appears.
Spend at least ten minutes doing this every day, longer if you’re in the flow or have a particular problem to solve. It is best done first thing in the morning before your mind has snapped into gear. And what do you end up with at the end of this ten minutes? Probably a bunch of pages filled with stream-of-consciousness nonsensical garbage. But there might be some tasty morsels in that garbage. Those who practice freenoting claim that by writing in this way you clear your brain of all the unconscious thoughts and worries. Writing like this is a way of de-cluttering and organising your mind so that you can focus properly. If you are a creative person, freenoting can be particularly useful for clearing out the thoughts and ideas that aren’t needed and at the same time allowing ideas that were trapped inside you to be expressed more easily.
Keep all your freenotes as they can be re-read at a later date, you may read back on some of them and wonder if indeed you were the person who wrote these things, which is good. That means you allowed your unconscious mind to have its say. Some of the things you’ve written may not be of use to you now, but they might spark off some idea in your brain a few weeks down the line. If you’re writing a book or studying in college it can be helpful to go back over your freenotes and sift the gold from the dirt. Phrases and words that are useful can be put into a spider diagram to enable you to generate even more associations and ideas.
If you are studying for an exam, periodically stop reading your book and spontaneously start freenoting on the topic. You might be surprised at how much information your brain has already taken in, all you’re doing is allowing all the information in there to come out without your inner-editor blocking your memory or thoughts.
According to Win Wenger it is sometimes useful to practice freenoting while attending a lecture. You might not be consciously listening to the lecture while you are writing, but by freenoting you are allowing all of your brain to be engaged and active and may find that you actually absorb more information than if you were struggling hard to concentrate. Also, by writing on the topic you’re listening (or half-listening) to, you might find that you spontaneously come up with ideas yourself that are only later mentioned by the lecturer. This means your mind has already made connections on topics, helping you remember complex subject matter, rather than learning by rote.
Another benefit of freenoting is that it may help you solve problems. Can’t figure out how to resolve the plot in your novel? Need to figure out a way to earn extra income? Worried about your relationship? Try a week of freenoting and see if your unconscious comes up with a solution. If you want the answer to a specific problem, do some focused freenoting. Write novel plot’ for example, at the top of your page and then clear your mind and just begin to write. Don’t edit, no stopping to think about how it would be better to phrase something, ignore the fact that what you are writing may appear to have nothing to do with the topic at the top of your page. If the words are flowing from your fingertips don’t bother with punctuation, just keep writing, and after ten minutes look back on your freenotes and see if, by allowing your brain no restrictions, it has found any solutions to your problem.
Freenoting will free up your unconscious mind, allow you become more creative and aid your memory. Imagine your mind is like a muscle that hasn’t been used in a while, it can take a couple of weeks of regular freenoting for your brain to warm up and start providing you with useful stuff. Try it for a few weeks and see what happens. All the information locked away in your brain will finally get a chance to come out and get organised. Ten minutes of freenoting a day is not only fun, but seems like a small price to pay if it indeed helps you think creatively, pass that exam, finish your novel and find the solution to persistant problems.