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3.2: Brainstorming and Prewriting

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    • Do you think you need to brainstorm or outline before creating certain projects? Why or why not?
    • Why do people (teachers and writers) value brainstorming and prewriting, in your opinion?

    Why Prewrite?\(^{61}\)

    Prewriting for even 5 to 20 minutes can help you establish what you already know about a paper topic, as well as aid you in discovering where you would like to go with a paper (i.e. what you want to know). It can reveal to you those potential areas of personal interest within the writing task: in a manner of speaking, prewriting enables you to “discover” yourself within the context of your topic. Also, prewriting can act as a tool to ward off or break through what is commonly called “writer’s block” since you’re throwing down EVERYTHING in your head about topic right now!

    Brainstorming & Prewriting:

    Brainstorming is one of the most effective pre-writing techniques you can use. It’s virtually painless and can be pretty fun, if you let it be! Let your mind wander and think about things that you would like to explore more. Try to create a mental web of things you can connect to one another. Let the lightning of ideas strike you as they may. If you’d like a bit more structure in your prewriting, try one of these methods: Listing, Freewriting, Outling, and Clustering. Here are examples of those methods:


    IF the assignment is an essay about anything you want to learn more about, perhaps you might wonder how other humans in college find BALANCE.

    1. Balancing classes and work
    2. Studying better and more efficiently
    3. Distant friendships vs finding new ones on campus
    4. How do I find time to take care of myself?


    IF the assignment is to identify one’s teaching philosophy:

    Thursday January 23, 2003\(^{62}\)

    In one of my own classes, I have to come up with my Teaching Philosophy.. theories as to how and why I teach, etc.. also theories/analyzations behind the assignments I assign. Hmm.. here's a freewrite about those things:
    First off, Teaching for me is like a religion.. it is my religion. I come to the school to 'worship' if you will. My purpose in life is to teach.. it is my calling, I guess. Expressivism comes through this because I want students to express themselves in my classroom. I want them to be the 'best' they can be.. the best writer, the best student. And I want to TRY to inspire that. TRY= Key word. I figure that by getting them to look at themselves, they will grow and better what they have and thus, the community of people surrounding them will get better too. The Social Epistemics have good ideas that I latch onto as far as having the students question everything around them... but I don't want them to worry so much about controlling or analyzing those items/people around them. They should, in my opinion, start with something they do know the answers to, something familiar- themselves and the way they work. Work from the inside out, I suppose. Again, in connecting to religions, I think of Buddhism which in contrast to, say, Catholicism wants it's followers to be the best 'them' whereas Catholicism wants us to imitate Jesus. WWJD. Well, I ask- who cares what he'd do- what are YOU going to do? What is the best for YOU? Perhaps that's also why I shy away from having students read a lot of what others have written because while I don't mind if they want to mimic another writer, I do want them to write the way THEY feel it should come out. I mean, sure, I wanted at one time to write poetry like e.e. cummings, but then I thought- wait, I am the only Sybil Ann Priebe that is ever going to live... maybe I should perfect MY VOICE and MY STYLE and not try to be someone else. There are lessons that can be learned from reading others, definitely, I just don't think that I want students to feel that their voice or style (weird or traditional as it is) isn't important- ESPECIALLY after they have been working through paper after paper at growing in their writing skills.

    Assignments: I want my assignments to be just like my classroom atmosphere: fun, open/flexible, and interesting (adding in the intellectual side- LEARNING SOMETHING).

    Posted 1/23/2003 at 12:38 PM


    IF the assignment is an argument about WHY balance is necessary, here’s a possible outline that could be followed:

    1. Intro: Why We Need Balance
      1. Mental/Spiritual
      2. Academic
      3. Financial
    2. Obstacles to Finding Balance
      1. People
      2. Stress and Illness
    3. Who Has Found Balance?
      1. Examples
    4. Tips on Finding Balance
      1. Be Organized
      2. Find Routines that work for you


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    \(^{61}\)“Basic Writing/Print version.” Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 9 Sep 2008, 16:02 UTC. 11 May 2016, 18:08 <>. Licensed CC-BY-SA.

    \(^{62}\)Blog post by Sybil Priebe is licensed CC-BY.

    This page titled 3.2: Brainstorming and Prewriting is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.