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