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Loop writing is a technique developed by Peter Elbow that involves underlining striking or important lines. Then those lines become starting points for going even deeper into a topic to gain new insights. It is a great way to develop your line of thinking on any topic, but especially useful when you aren’t sure what direction you want your writing to take.


picture of purple light swirls

Inevitably you will write a lot of material that won’t be useful, but loop writing can unearth insights and innovative phrasing that would never make it to the page otherwise.


Depending on where you are out in your writing process, you may or may not need to do the first step.


1. Make an inventory of topics by listing or making a cluster diagram. Then freewrite for 3-5 minutes on a few promising topics.


2. Pick the topic that seems to have the most potential. Freewrite for at least 15 minutes on everything you already know about the topic.


3. Read what you just wrote. Underline what you feel is the most important line.


4. Use that line as the start of another freewrite. Write for 5-15 more minutes.


5. This process can be repeated indefinitely.


Loop writing is also an awesome technique to getting the writer to make connections between seemingly unrelated topics. Happy writing!!!


What techniques do you use to generate ideas and deeply explore potential topics?



Image Credit: Purple Fractal by Steve Gibson

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