Tag Archives: brainstorming

An Essay Writing Tool

1 Nov

I’ve been posting a lot lately about the various elements of an essay starting at the pre-writing stage to writing and revising the rough draft. I’m also in the middle of breaking down the two hardest paragraphs of an essay – the introduction and the conclusion. For the introduction, you’ve got the hook and the map. The conclusion posts will come next week.

In my research for the above posts, I came across a handy-dandy online tool – the Essay Map. It’s a plug-and-play model and not one that you’ll want to count as spitting out a final draft but in terms of organizing your ideas and argument, it looks pretty good.

Has anyone used this tool before? Or do you have a recommendation for something better? Let us know in the comments.


Getting Organized

9 Oct

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” A.A. Milne was spot on with this quote and this idea can certainly be applied to the writing process.

I’ve spent a number of posts talking about the pre-writing process and I thought it a good idea to compile them all into one place.

First off, understanding the assignment is the key to writing a great essay. Once you’re clear about what’s expected of you, there are a number of pre-writing strategies you can employ to get you going. I’d recommend trying them all out; you may find that switching strategies will inspire new ideas or connections. Here are the links to each strategy post:


Clustering/Mind Mapping


The Topic Outline

If you need a sentence outline, simply follow the instructions for the topic outline that’s linked above and then use one of the pre-writing strategies to craft the sentences you need.

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 lincolnwriting@gmail.com. We’re here Monday-Friday 2:30-4:30pm. Whenever you need to brainstorm, come on in!

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