Writing Basics: Prewriting (Gathering Ideas)
>Ah yes, prewriting: the step most likely to be skipped.
What is prewriting? “Pre” means “before”, and so “prewriting” is everything we do before we write.
But I have a great idea! you might say. Great! Jot it down. Then come up with a plan. Why? Because without a plan, often all we come up with is a bunch of–you guessed it–BS. I know, I know, you think it’s good. That’s great. But the trick to writing well is getting other people to enjoy it as well.
Ok, ok, you say. So what do I need to do? Here’s some tricks to prewriting that you might find useful. Again, many of these should look familiar.
- Create a list of ideas. You’ve got some great ideas and you know it. Fantastic! The first step is to write these down before you forget them! Drawing a blank and need ideas quick? No problem. A brainstorm list is a good place for you to start.
- Outline. Once I get ideas jotted down, I like to start to put them into order. Writing a story? Great! An outline’s a great tool for you too.
- Cluster your ideas. Perhaps you’re the visual type? You might remember from grade school a little thing we call a cluster–otherwise known as a thought-web or map. Put your central idea in a bubble the center of a piece of paper, and from it, draw more bubbles with other ideas. As one idea gives rise to another, connect the bubbles until you find just the idea or set of ideas you are looking for.
- Free write. I love freewriting. It’s gotten me out of more jams–when I need to come up with a report, speech, story–what have you, and was simply drawing a blank. There are so many ways to use freewriting, that I’ll need to cover it in it’s own post. But for now, let me say this: if you are simply out of ideas, try writing without considering who you are writing for or what you are writing about. Let yourself go. With this freedom, you should find, as I have, that the words will come.
From here, you can begin drafting.