Creativity Lab: Freewriting and Word Wars

Creativity Lab is our new blog series that uses scientific studies to help find ways to make your writing life creatively enriching.

Page 85’s Word War feature isn’t just a fun way to compete against your friends or colleagues to see who can write more words before the timer runs out. It’s actually a proven way for you to improve your creative thinking skills. And creativity is one of those essential skills for all you writers out there, and it even proves advantageous for other industry professionals.

Creativity is broken up into two elements:

  • Divergent Thinking. This is the part of creativity that is responsible for the creation of ideas. When you’re brainstorming a new script or concept, this is the kind of thinking you are engaged in. This is the part of creativity that you can hone and improve, and by doing so, you will be able to write better rough drafts, come up with better ideas, and be able to come up with better solutions faster during meetings with executives or other writers.
  • Convergent Thinking. Convergent thinking is your brain’s ability to separate the good ideas from the bad and synthesize your best ideas into even better ones. It’s less fluid than divergent thinking and you can’t improve it a whole lot because it is tied to your IQ.

From the Lab

How Word Wars and Freewriting Sharpens Your Divergent Thinking Skills

By practicing the act of uninhibited creation, you are training your mind how to turn on creativity on demand. And since we’re living in a world where high quality content is always on demand, where writers face stringent deadlines for high stake assignments, it is crucial that you hone your divergent thinking skills in order to compete in today’s ultra-competitive industry.

But not only does Word Wars utilize the concept of idea creation through freewriting, but it also ties in a second concept: having fun. It’s been shown that when participants are in good moods and are enjoying whatever activity they are participating in, they are more creative.

We’ve designed Word Wars with the following features to help make writing fun again.

  • Prompts. Feeling uninspired? Our photo prompts are constructed to help spark inspiration.
  • Spotify Integration. Create a customized playlist for each Word War, or pick one of our ready made Word War approved playlists for ultimate motivation!
  • Leaderboard. Up for a challenge? Start a word war and try to top the weekly leaderboard!
  • Timed Write. You can race against yourself in sandbox mode. Set the timer for five minutes or fifty, and start writing!

We created these features to make the writing process a fun, community-centric, collaborative experience. Writer’s block will be a thing of the past, and each Word War will improve your creative abilities!

The Research

The exercise of freewriting is a tool being used in higher education across the country today, not only to promote creativity but also to sharpen critical thinking skills. Here’s an excerpt from a research paper by Wendy Major and Dr. Fred Kemp that I think you’ll find interesting:

“Expressive writing, specifically freewriting, if taught correctly can foster critical thinking skills in freshman composition students. Therefore, dispelling the myth that freewriting is merely a senseless activity that discourages students from learning academic language.” Citation.

This excerpt is from Jürgen Schmidhuber’s paper entitled: Formal Theory of Creativity, Fun, and Intrinsic Motivation. This paragraph along with the entire paper helps to explain how having fun in a competitive context where there is a goal to be achieved helps maximize creativity.

“The simple, but general formal theory of fun and intrinsic motivation and creativity is based on the concept of maximizing intrinsic reward for the active creation or discovery of novel, surprising patterns allowing for improved prediction or data compression. It generalizes the traditional field of active learning, and is related to old, but less formal ideas in aesthetics theory and developmental psychology. It has been argued that the theory explains many essential aspects of intel- ligence including autonomous development, science, art, music, and humor.” Citation.

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