Freeing the Mind, Freeing the Words? Navigating the Wordy World of Free Writing

Abang Edwin SA
3 min readFeb 14, 2024
Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

The siren song of free writing beckons: a boundless space to unleash creativity, overcome writer’s block, and explore ideas without judgment. But often, amidst the liberating flow, a lurking danger emerges — wordiness. For writers like Ivan Lanin, the very tool meant to unlock expression threatens to drown it in a sea of unnecessary words. So, does embracing the messiness of free writing inevitably lead to bloated prose? Can wordiness and captivating writing coexist?

The answer, like most things in writing, is nuanced. Let’s delve into the world of free writing, its merits and pitfalls, and discover how to strike a balance between unleashing your inner wordsmith and maintaining clarity.

The Allure of Wordiness:

Free writing thrives on fluidity. It allows you to paint with words, exploring every avenue, every tangent, without the constraints of structure or judgment. This exploration can unearth hidden gems — unique turns of phrase, unexpected connections, and a vivid richness to your writing. Wordiness, in this sense, becomes a tool for depth and detail, creating an immersive experience for the reader. Humor and personality can also blossom in the free flow, making your writing more engaging and memorable.

The Tyranny of Excess:

However, unchecked wordiness can become a double-edged sword. As the words pile up, your core message gets buried, clarity suffers, and reader engagement plummets. Attention spans are precious, and wading through pages of verbose prose can quickly lead to disinterest. Additionally, the sheer volume of words in a freewriting draft can create a daunting editing task, further hindering progress.

Finding the Sweet Spot:

The key lies in navigating the sweet spot between free exploration and focused expression. Here are some tips to master the art of “wordy without woolly”:

  • Embrace the Messy Draft: Free writing is about flow, not perfection. Don’t get bogged down in editing during the process.
  • Time Travel: Set timed sessions for free writing. This helps limit wordiness and forces you to prioritize your ideas.
  • Refine with Ruthlessness: After the initial burst, dedicate time to revising and editing ruthlessly. Identify bloated sentences, redundant phrases, and areas where you can achieve the same impact with fewer words.
  • Seek Feedback: Get trusted readers to offer feedback on your writing’s clarity and focus. Their insights can help you identify areas for improvement.

Wordiness: A Tool, Not a Trap:

Remember, wordiness itself is not the enemy. It’s the lack of control over it that can hinder your writing. By understanding its potential benefits and pitfalls, and by employing strategic revision techniques, you can utilize wordiness as a tool to enhance your writing, not drown it. Embrace the freedom of free writing, but remember to wield your words with intention, crafting a message that is both rich and clear, engaging your readers without leaving them lost in a labyrinth of verbose prose. So, unleash your thoughts, but remember, a clear path through the forest of words leads to a more captivating destination.

Notes:
This article was triggered by the experience of my friend, Ivan Lanin, in
this article (the article is in Indonesian)

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Abang Edwin SA

Observer, Content Creator, Blogger (Obviously), Ghostwriter, Design Thinker, Trainer and also Lecturer for Product Design Dept at Podomoro University