What is Prewriting and How Is It Done?

~ The First Stage of the Writing Process ~

Too often we assume that writing happens instantaneously and without much thought; however, the important thing to remember is that writing takes time. (And usually a lot of planning.)

Prewriting is the first, and some say the most important, stage of the writing process. Although it is so crucial, we often skip it because we don’t know how to plan out our writing. Here are a few tips on how to get the writing process started:


Draw a Mind Map
If you are a visual learner, being able to see your ideas on the page and how they connect to one another is a great way to start brainstorming. Start by drawing a circle in the center of your page and then draw three lines outward from the center. In the circle write the main idea of your essay and then use the lines to connect three details/support to the main idea. After you have these initial ideas on the page, keep branching off from them and building more connections.

Make a List
If you’re the person who always has a list for the grocery store, making a list to help you write an essay may be an excellent approach because it helps you organize your ideas and see them on the page. Start by writing the main idea at the top of the page and then just list any words or ideas that you feel connect to it. It can be as simple as a word that comes to mind when you think of your main idea, or it may be as complex as a complete sentence or specific example. Let your thoughts come to you and then later you can sort through and cross items off your list as you shop write.

Try Blind Writing
If you’re feeling completely stuck (writer’s block), sometimes the best technique is to just put pen to paper and write. Blind writing is when you simply write whatever comes to mind for a set amount of time. Start with the main idea of the essay, writing it at the top of the page and then set a timer for as long as you’d like to write (typically 5 minutes is a good starting point). Then, let the pen do the work and don’t stop writing until the timer goes off. This technique may seem difficult at first; however, if you just keep writing whatever comes to mind (and don’t worry about punctuation or grammar), you may find that idea quicker than you imagined.

Create an Outline
If you’d prefer to use a map or GPS when driving to a new place, using an outline for your writing might be the best technique for you because it helps provide a clear roadmap for your entire essay. Start with the standard essay format: introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs and then add the topic sentences and supporting details. Your outline does not have to be complete sentences or even complete ideas, just a general guide for the rest of the essay.

Once you’ve finished brainstorming and compiling your ideas, you’re ready for the next stage of the writing process: Drafting!

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