Northcentral University Writing Center

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Writing Center


Looping is a freewriting technique that helps the writer to increase focus and narrow ideas by repeating the technique of freewriting, thereby developing a sequence of freewriting that develops one from the other. By drawing attention away from the entire topic or assignment question to the more individual items or topics in the loops, the writer will work more productively and with more interest.


The same rules that apply to freewriting (see Freewriting) apply to looping: write quickly, don’t edit, and don’t stop: 



  1. Begin by freewriting on the course assignment for 5 to 10 minutes.


  1. Then, read through the freewriting, looking for any interesting topics, ideas, phrases, or sentences. The writer should circle or underline those ideas (key words or phrases) that have sparked interest and seem to have the most potential for the writing assignment.  


  1. Now, begin another freewrite that focuses on the item or items circled or underlined in the first freewrite. This second freewrite, which begins a new loop for the topic, will obviously be more specific than the first. When finished with this freewrite, loop the freewriting again, circling or underlining another interesting topic, idea, phrase, or sentence.


  1. Continue looping until there are enough ideas to begin writing a first draft or a preliminary outline.


When finished with four or five rounds of looping, the writer will begin to have specific information that indicates the thoughts and ideas that are circulating about a particular topic. In some cases, the writer may even have the basis for a tentative thesis or an improved idea for an approach to the assignment.  


For more information on this topic, please visit the Writing Centers at Colorado, Purdue, and Chapel Hill.