Freewriting and "Accidental Genius"

by Mark Levy

Yesterday, straight from the bindery, I received a couple of hundred copies of my latest book: the revised and expanded second edition of “Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content.”

Here’s me opening a box. (My wife, by the way, hates that I take photos in our kitchen. I’ll remember next time.)

The book, which is published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, hits bookstores over the course of the next two weeks.

Early readers enjoyed it.

David Meerman Scott said he devoured it “in one sitting, even though I had to pee really badly near the end.” He went on to say that he “couldn’t work without the ideas in this book.”

Michelle Davidson, the editor of, got caught up reading it, too. She told me she was on an airplane, and planned on watching her favorite show on the miniature TV embedded in the back of the seat in front of her. She started reading my book, though, became absorbed, and forgot to catch her program.

What’s the book about? It teaches readers a liberating, freestyle form of writing, called freewriting, that does two things for them:

1. It acts as a problem-solving tool, which helps them think through business problems.

2. It serves as a tool of thought leadership, which enables them to write one-of-a-kind books, posts, speeches, and anything else they need to stand out.

Here’s a piece of the introduction:

“Freewriting is one of the most valuable skills I know. It’s a way of using the body to get mechanical advantage over the mind, so the mind can better do its job.

“As expansive and impressive as the mind is, it’s also lazy. Left to its own devices, it recycles tired thoughts, takes rutted paths, and steers clear of unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory. You could say one of its primary jobs is to shut off, even when there’s important thinking to be done.

“Freewriting prevents that from happening. It pushes the brain to think longer, deeper, and more unconventionally than that it normally would. By giving yourself a handful of liberating freewriting rules to follow, your mind is backed into a corner and can’t help but come up with new thoughts. You could call freewriting a form of forced creativity.

“The technique will work for you even if you don’t consider yourself a gifted writer or thinker. The writing itself generates thought, which is why some refer to this technique as automatic writing. It often produces intriguing results without labored effort on the part of the writer. At times, the thoughts seem to pop up on their own.”

I’ll be writing about “Accidental Genius” and its techniques in many of the upcoming posts.

If you get a copy and try freewriting, please let me know how it works for you.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana Detrick from Serious Vanity Music

I immediately started a freewriting “practice” before I was even done with the first chapter, and it’s not only been a godsend for my business, but for my life in general! Recommended it here, and will be singing its praises to everyone I know:


Toby Bloomberg - @tobydiva

Mark – congrats! I had the opportunity to read the book … creative ideas that can easily be applied. Mark you are brilliant. By the way, love your kitchen.


Mark Levy

Thanks for the kind words about my book, Toby. Thanks, too, about the kitchen. I told Stella what you said, and she loved it.


Cath Lawson

Hi Mark – I love the colour of your book. I’ve used orange in marketing before and I think it’s a whole lot fresher than red.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love freewriting and I’m always looking for new techniques to try. It’s my birthday in a few days and I always treat myself to a good writing book, so I’m off to add it to my Amazon wishlist now.

BTW – I have tried adding you to my Google reader but your RSS at the bottom of each post just adds a comments only feed, not one for your posts. Is it a mistake, or is there another RSS button I should be using?


Mark Levy

My publisher, Berrett-Koehler, asked me how I’d describe the book. I said, “Freewriting pulls ideas from every part of the mind. It’s like fireworks going off.” One of the cover concepts they came back with was exploding fireworks.

The graphic arts team there did a beautiful job. I also got lots of smart advice from my client and friend, Larina Kase, who, along with being a business coach and cognitive therapist, is a painter and sculptor.

I agree, Cath. The orange gives it vibrancy.

Have a wonderful birthday! Writing your way into it is a great thing to do.

Thanks, too, for alerting me to the RSS situation. My web guy, who is sensational, is making changes now.


Mark Levy

Glad you found freewriting helpful, Halelly.

You mentioned that the interview technique helped free up your mind. I use that technique a lot, too, because it has a way of objectifying a problem. It drains off some of the emotion, so we can see it more clearly and flip perspectives. We see ways around impediments that initially preoccupied us.

Thanks again for the comment and kind words.


Halelly Azulay

Congratulations, Mark! That’s awesome. What a good feeling that must be… I can’t wait until I can truly understand it myself ;o)
I did some free writing last night to try to work through a problem I’m feeling ‘stuck’ on. Did the ‘interview’ technique and came up with some ideas to try. Thanks!


Mark Levy

Appreciate the kind words, Ron. I look forward to reading about your scripting approach. Good luck with the site.


Ron Blau

I haven’t read “Accidental Genius” yet, but I just finished “The Fascination Factor,” which is filled with excellent perceptions and tips–and very original. Not censoring ideas prematurely in the creative process is key, and a MUCH more pleasurable way to work. I recently launched a blog about making better online videos, and that includes the amazingly variable scripting process. The blog is called Seeing Your Story ( In the June 8 post I talked about working with a Microsoft Word template, but in the June 22 post, the only shooting script was a 3×5 index card I stuck in my pocket. Thanks for your insights!


Nancy Robinson


I have been WAITING for the new edition to come out, so as soon as you told me it was ready I placed an order! I cannot wait to read it and learn more about freewriting.

Also, is there any place other than the kitchen to take photos?! That’s where I take all mine…


Mark Levy

I smiled very broadly, Nancy, while reading your comment about how you only get your photos taken in the kitchen. (Note: Nancy is a Washington D.C.-area personal chef who does cooking segments on TV. Her company is

Thanks for buying the book. You’ve already proven you’re a freewriting pro, but I’d be interested to hear how you like it.



Congratulations, Mark – it’s a good read indeed! And I like the fact you take pictures in your kitchen 🙂


Mark Levy

Thanks, Manuel. I still recall teaching you freewriting in that kitchen.

I can’t ever remember someone taking to the technique as quickly as you. One minute you’re saying, “What’s freewriting?” The next minute you’re using it to have breakthroughs.


Joel Friedlander

Congratulations, Mark, it looks great. (And your kitchen doesn’t look too bad either.) You’re with a great publisher, too. Years ago I did many of their books and they were always my favorite client. Best of luck with the book.


Mark Levy

Thanks, Joel. I second your statement about Berrett-Koehler.

I’ve worked with them for more than a decade, and they’re a smart, ethical, and friendly group who really do dedicate themselves to making the world better.

If readers visited the Berrett-Koehler site (, I think they’d be shocked to see how many thoughtful books that house has published.


Larry Robertson

Congrats Mark! Can’t wait to see the new book! You already know I’m a free writing advocate!


Mark Levy

Thanks, Larry. Appreciated.

By the way, for those who don’t know Larry, he’s the author of an excellent book called “A Deliberate Pause” (

It shows readers how to see the world as it is, imagine something better, and then act on their ideals. You could also say the book is about entrepreneurial thinking, and how it can be used to change things locally, nationally, and internationally.

Take a look.


Thomas Clifford

Hi Mark!

I. Can’t. Wait. To. Read. This. Again!!

Wishing you all the best with the book launch and beyond. May writers and readers everywhere benefit from the unique insights you share in this updated version.

Keep us posted on your progress!


Mark Levy

Thanks, Tom. I look forward to seeing you at the “Accidental Genius Book Launch Party” (

We’ll have some laughs, talk some writing, and meet some cool people.


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