Reflective writing or "freewriting" after reading a short story or in preparing a paper can help with critical thinking skills while refining your writing skills. Chris Anderson (1992) writes in his book, Free/Style: A Direct Approach to Writing, that free writing allows a person to at least put their thoughts on paper even if they are not "sounding right" or academic. He writes, "‘Free’ suggests the need to forget the rules and just go" (p. 2).

While freewriting, reflect on what you have just read by writing without stopping for a set time period (approximately five minutes). Do not be concerned with grammar, punctuation, spelling or style. You should "think about the thinking." Anderson strongly encourages that while free writing, you (the writer) should not reread what you have already written. Rather, if stuck on what to write next, just continue to write anything that comes to mind or rewrite the last word until another idea comes to mind. You should incorporate your thoughts and not summarize or retell the story. To facilitate this type of writing, you might implement "reading with and against the grain" while reading. You can then reflect on this experience in your free write. You can also reflect on the following while writing: What issues are addressed or being implied? What message does the author want to get across? What can you predict might happen next?

The act of freewriting allows you to put your thoughts about the text into writing without the pressures of having an audience. It is in the revising stages that you can then address what ideas are usable, what sentences need to be rewritten and which should be thrown out. In the revisions and final stages of writing, you can then begin to "unpack" or expand on and clarify your points. Here we are allowing you to practice your freewriting which, with practice, will improve. Freewriting does not always produce "interesting" or good material. However, as Anderson has written, "Freewriting makes a mess, but in that mess is the material you need to make a good paper or memo or report."

Anderson, Chris. 1992. Free/Style: A Direct Approach to Writing.

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