Hi, all! Welcome back to another semester. A common question this semester that seems to have carried over from last semester is how to brainstorm and prewrite for assignments. Many students, especially freshmen, have never utilized any type of prewriting technique for their essays and this can cause problems in upper level courses when assignments can be more complex. Brainstorming and prewriting are effective and valuable for multiple reasons: they allow the writer to visually see the ideas, make connections between ideas, and organize the ideas in a logical manner. Many different steps to brainstorming and prewriting and multiple techniques can be applied. Some of these steps and techniques can be found in The Everyday Writer on pages 58-74.
The first step is to brainstorm by communicating ideas with others, freewriting, or even using more visual methods like clustering. From this phase, the writer can then narrow the topic and create some sort of tentative thesis that encompasses the idea of the paper. This can always be changed later but many professors require a working thesis statement before any drafts are crafted. The next step is to gather resources to support the topic of the paper, and that information must then be organized. This is usually where some students run into issues; a simple method to organizing main ideas and supporting points for an essay is to make some sort of outline or flow chart. Examples of these can be found on pages 71-73 of The Everyday Writer. After a plan has been made, it’s time to start writing!
The Writing Center also offers assistance for the brainstorming and prewriting steps of the writing process, so please set up an appointment with one of the tutors using http://rsuwc.setmore.com. All you have to do is sign in using your student email and password. We hope to see you soon and have a great semester!
-McKinze Hefner, RSU Writing Consultant