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Freewriting is the equivalent in writing to the use of free association by people undergoing psychoanalysis - you set aside a defined period of time, such as twenty minutes, and write down in an unstructured way whatever comes into your head. Peter Elbow, who described this technique in his book Writing with Power: techniques for mastering the writing process (New York: Oxford University Press 1981), recommended during this period of time deliberately writing nonsense, or the same word over and over again, until other words started to come.

Freewriting represents an extreme form of writer-orientated writing, and is difficult to transform into the reader-orientated perspective that is one of the expectations of academic writing without putting a great deal of effort into design for a reader. The aim of freewriting is to break down any internal mental censorship that may be creating writer's block, but it is probably best used in small doses.