The Process of Invention

21 Sep

                                © Kimberly Vohsen

I’ve already posted about breaking down your assignment to ensure complete understanding so now let’s move to the next stage of the writing process – prewriting!

Prewriting is the writing you do before your actual writing. Clear as mud, right? Basically, it’s all the work you do in order to be prepared to sit and write your essay. This could be free writing, brainstorming, clustering, etc. A lot of students tend to pick one style and stick with it, which can be perfectly fine.

However, if you find yourself feeling stuck or bored or uninspired, stretch out and try a different approach. Who knows? Looping may bring about an idea that, perhaps, the journalist method would not.

I’ll spend a few posts going into detail for each strategy and, time permitting, provide some worksheets you can use. First up…

– Brainstorming

This is often what starts happening in your brain moments after you get the assignment. “Okay, I need to write a paper about a motif in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. Hmm, maybe flight? The novel starts with a guy thinking he can fly, then Milkman leaves Michigan, oh and, his great-grandpa Solomon escaped enslavement, so that’s another type of flight.” (Should you be lucky enough to be assigned Song of Solomon, I recommend NOT using this idea – it’s been written into the ground).

So, brainstorming (aka free writing) is taking all of those thoughts and writing them down. No organization, no censoring, no cohesion, no editing – just write down any and every thought that comes to mind.

Now, after a few minutes, you’re going to want to start editing yourself, which is the exact opposite point of this exercise. To prevent this from happening, I suggest setting a timer. Maybe start with 2 minutes, step away from your work for a few minutes, another 2 minutes, so on and so forth. This should keep the inner editor at bay.

This is where I plug the Writing Center. It is so much easier just to talk rather than to try to talk and write. You could be the faster typer in the US – your brain is a lot faster.

Reminder: To make an appt, fill out the appt book on the main counter in the Library or email me We’re here Monday-Friday 2:30-4:30pm. Whenever you need to brainstorm, come on in!

5 Responses to “The Process of Invention”


  1. Mapping the Mind « LHS Writing Center - September 26, 2012

    […] the theme of the brainstorming post, let’s dive into another prewriting strategy – clustering or mind […]

  2. Loop de Loop « LHS Writing Center - September 27, 2012

    […] series on prewriting strategies, today’s post is about looping. This strategy is similar to brainstorming/free writing but with a slight tweak. Grab a piece of paper and let’s get […]

  3. Short & Sweet: The Topic Outline « LHS Writing Center - September 28, 2012

    […] as each sub-heading. Here’s a sample based on the Song of Solomon example I used for the brainstorming post a few days back (please ignore the erroneous margins – that’s WordPress, not […]

  4. Getting Organized « LHS Writing Center - October 9, 2012

    […] – Brainstorming […]

  5. Anything Goes Wednesday: Plotting the Plot | LHS Writing Center - May 22, 2013

    […] any writing that you do? Are you a fan of the mind map? Looping? Or maybe outlining? Perhaps you do something totally different – share it with […]

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