Junior Composition and Conversation
Focused Free-Writing: 
Sondra Perl's Composing Guidelines
p. 118 - 119.  Elbow, Peter & Pat Belanoff.  A Community of Writers: A Workshop Course in Writing   New York: Random House, 1989.
Basic principles:
  • Continue writing, even when you don't know where you're going.
  • Periodically pause and ask, "What's this all about?"
  • Periodically check what you have written against your internal sense of where you're going or what you wanted to say -- your  "felt sense."
Specific Guidelines:
  1. Find a way to be comfortable.  Shake out your hands, take a deep breath, settle into your chair.  Close your eyes if you'd like to; relax.  Find a way to be quietely and comfortably aware of your inner state.
  2. Ask yourself, "What's going on with me right now?  Is there anything in the way of my writing today?"  When you hear yourself answering, take a minute to jot down a list of any distraction or impediments that come to mind.
  3. Now ask yourself, "What's on my mind?  Of all the things I know about, what might I like to write about now?"  When you hear yourself answering, jot down what comes.  Maybe you get one thing, maybe a list.  If you feel totally blocked, you may write down "Nothing."  Even this can be taken further by asking yourself, "What is this 'Nothing' all about?"
  4. Ask yourself, "Now that I have a list -- long or short --is there anything else I've left out, any other piece I'm overlooking...?"  Add anything that comes to mind.
  5. Where you have one definite idea or a whole list of things, look over what you have and ask, "What here draws my attention right now?  What could I begin to write about, even if I'm not certain where it will lead?"  Take the idea, word, or item and put it at the top of a new page.
  6. Now--taking a deep breath and settling comfortably into your chair--ask yourself, "what are all the associations and parts I know about this topic?  What can I say about it now?"  Spend as long as you need writing down these responses.  Perhaps it's a sustained piece of freewriting or stream of consciousness, or perhaps separate bits, a long list, or notes to yourself. 
  7. Now having written for a while, interrupt yourself, set aside all the writing you've done, and take a fresh look at this topic or issue.  Grab hold of the whole topic -- not the bits and pieces -- and ask yourself, "What makes this topic interesting to me?  What's important about this that I haven't said yet?  What's the heart of this issue?"  Wait quietly for a word, image, or phrase to arise from your "felt sense" of the topic. 
  8. Take this word or image and use it.  Ask yourself, "what's this all about?"  Describe the feeling, image, or word.  As you write, let the "felt sense" deepen.
  9. If you are at a dead end, you can ask yourself, "What makes this topic so hard for me?"  
  10. When you find yourself stopping, ask, "What's missing?"
  11. When again you find yourself stopping, ask yourself, "Where is this leading?  what the point I'm trying to make?"
  12. Once you feel you're near or at the end, ask yourself,"Does this feel complete?"  Look at your "felt sense" for the answer.