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Loop Writing

Term Definition
Loop Writing

The most characteristic element of the loop writing process is perhaps its emphasis on spontaneous writing. The student is simply to put all his thoughts down on the page, with no regard for conceptual biases or even grammatical correctness. This material is then to be revised later in order achieve greater quality. Spontaneous creativity, however, is at the very bottom of the entire process outlined by Elbow. This could potentially help overcome writer's block. 

What is loop writing?

If you have ever suffered from writer's block, then loop writing could potentially help you out. Would you like to know more about the meaning of this term?

Here at Ultius, we want to do whatever we can to help you grow into a more talented writer. Toward this end, we have decided to provide you with glossary entries regarding key terms such as loop writing. 

Loop writing is a technique developed by an author named Peter Elbow. Its goal is to help you achieve a state of controlled creativity. 

The loop writing process consists of multiple steps designed to help you just get your thoughts on the page. 

Examples of loop writing in sentences

Here are some examples of the term loop writing used correctly within the context of sentences. 

"When the student said that he was experiencing writer's block, the professor suggested that loop writing could perhaps help him overcome this problem and tap into the creative sources within his own mind."

"The prize-winning author eschewed loop writing on the grounds that it merely formalized what he already did within his own mind in a matter of minutes; there was no need to make such a fuss about it."

"Although the student had to throw out pages and pages of draft generated by the loop writing process, he had to admit that it actually did help him produce a good final product."

Usage rules

In case there is still any confusion about the meaning of loop writing, here are a couple rules for your reference. 

1. Loop writing refers to a very specific process that was delineated by the author Elbow in a specific book. Therefore, it would seem to be inappropriate to use the actual term loop writing unless one intends to specifically refer to this process and this book. Loop writing does not just refer to a generic technique for overcoming writer's block. 

2. Over the coming times, however, it is perhaps possible that the term loop writing will take on a more generic meaning that has become somewhat independent from the specific context of its origin. However, it does not seem that this has happened yet. Caution must thus be exercised when attempting to use the term loop writing in this more generic way.  


The second edition of Elbow's book Writing with Power was published in the year 1998. This is the work in which the concept of loop writing was first developed. The process consists of a kind of spontaneous writing followed by analysis that can help improve certain elements of what has been written. For example, the first step of loop writing consists of simply writing about a given subject in a stream-of-consciousness way; and then the second step consists of identifying ones biases not in order to control them, but rather to actually overcome self-censorship and write in as a spontaneous a way as possible. 

In a way, then, loop writing has resonances with other techniques for exploring the subconscious, such as the automatic writing developed by the Surrealists and the method of free association developed by Freud. The main idea is to overcome all conscious barriers that prevent one from accessing the deeper creativity within one's own mind. This is is presumably called loop writing by Elbow because it involves an iterative process of first writing, then conducting analysis in order to eliminate blocks on creativity, then writing again, and so on.

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Synonyms: loop-writing

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