The Importance of Brainstorming before Essay Writing

You may have been told that it's important to brainstorm before writing an essay.

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While writing essays, students often find themselves at a loss for words. They are about halfway done the essay, have a thesis and a body paragraph for an idea they thought of on the fly, and then stall. It’s incredibly common, actually, for students to sputter out at this point. Because they didn’t brainstorm. The student had one good idea, wrote about it in the body, and then… poof. Nothing. And they cannot get back into idea generating mode.

College 101; Brainstorming and Outlining Your The best stories make the best essays, so what story can Writing an essay without an outline can result.

Steps in writing the essay: Brainstorming

Clustering: This is another way to record your thoughts and observations for a paragraph or essay after you have chosen a topic. First draw a circle near the center of a blank piece of paper, and in that circle, write the subject of your essay or paragraph. Then in a ring around the main circle, write down the main parts or subtopics within the main topic. Circle each of these, and then draw a line connecting them to the main circle in the middle. Then think of other ideas, facts, or issues that relate to each of the main parts/subtopics, circle these, and draw lines connecting them to the relevant part/subtopic. Repeat this process with each new circle until you run out of ideas. This is a great way of identifying the parts within your topic, which will provide content for the paper, and it also helps you discover how these parts relate to each other.

Online Writing Lab At this point you should spend a few minutes brainstorming about your thesis and writing down any and all ideas that may relate.

Prewriting exercises provide structure and meaning to your topic and research before you begin to write a draft. Using prewriting strategies to organize and generate ideas prevents a writer from becoming frustrated or stuck. Just as you would prepare to give a public speech on note cards, it is also necessary to write ideas down for a rough draft. After all, your audience is counting on a well-organized presentation of interesting facts, a storyline, or whatever you are required to write about. Prewriting exercises can help you focus your ideas, determine a topic, and develop a logical structure for your paper.

Free Tips on Steps in writing the essay: Brainstorming.


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Once you have a couple good ideas written down in complete sentences, you have completely finished generating ideas. Done. Dust off your hands because this job is complete. See, one advantage of brainstorming is that it allows you to get all your thinking out at once. If you chose to instead begin the essay without brainstorming, then you would be constantly transitioning between idea generating and writing supporting details (aka examples from the text). Constantly switching from one mentality to another is exhausting and, quite frankly, a waste of time. Don’t put yourself through that.

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This article is a bit of a diversion, I admit. So if you are looking for an article on how to brainstorm, take a look in the archives; you can find a great one written by yours truly on how to generate ideas. I chose to write this article because I have had too many students give me essays with one body paragraph or essays that are horribly organized. Every time we review, I ask them, “Did you brainstorm?” the answer is universally “No” despite my insistences that they do. So I’m here to persuade you to brainstorm by listing some of the perks brainstorming has to offer. Here they are, in all their glory!

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Your outline will contain more detailed information, and if there are certain areas that the assignment requires you to cover, then you can modify the outline to include these. You can also expand it if you're writing a longer research paper: the discussion of the problem might need several paragraphs, for example, and you might discuss the pros and cons of several possible solutions.

The 5-Step Writing Process: From Brainstorming to …

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