Writing may be enjoyable – if you have inspiration and know what to write about, have all conditions and a favorable environment for composition without distractions, and have much free time for giving yourself entirely to the process. But what should one do when time is scarce, and the muse stubbornly ignores you? Here is the major secret of all professional writers able to work under any conditions and still produce sizeable volumes of high-quality writing material – BRAINSTORMING. With the help of brainstorming, you will not be terrified by the question of how to write an outline for a ten page research paper, or by the need to compose three essays within a 24-hour deadline. Writing will surely get much easier, smoother, and quicker, and you will forget about stress related to it. Ready? Steady, go! Let’s get free from all writing stress by mastering the art of brainstorming!
Selection of the Paper’s Topic before Brainstorming
Before starting the actual composition process, you need to make sure that your direction is in line with what the supervisor expects from you. To do everything right and not to get off topic, use a brief assignment checklist to fit the writing into the instructions and meet the assessor’s expectations. The first thing to consider is whether you got the topic correctly. This may be done by answering a couple of questions:
Have I checked the syllabus and assignment document carefully? Have I read it to the end?
Have I written out all topics that need to be covered in the paper?
Am I following this list and double-checking it during each stage of writing?
Next, deal with the length of the assignment and double-check all details connected with it:
What is the word limit that the instructor established? What are the acceptable -/+ deviations?
Have I reserved one full page for the introduction and conclusion parts of my essay?
Have I selected the number of points to cover in compliance with the page length of the paper (a 5-7-page paper traditionally covers 3-4 main points, more is undesirable).
After checking these technical issues connected with your assignment, you should dedicate a proper portion of attention to scoping your paper. The assignment’s scope is the focus point from which you will start the brainstorming process, so it is critical to give it enough attention and develop it thoroughly. If your essay is short, make sure the focus is narrow, as a broad topic will hardly be covered with quality in a short piece of writing. After the focus is clear, let’s proceed to brainstorming for ideas!
Most Effective Brainstorming Techniques
Here are some tips for mastering brainstorming quickly and effectively. By following these techniques, you can get many ideas for the work without wasting time on unnecessary, lengthy preparations.
This is the first step to take for brainstorming – you should sit down, relax, and set all your thoughts aside, focusing on the subject matter of your assignment. Then take 5-7 minutes and write everything coming to your mind, even if it is not related to the topic of writing (you might find unobvious connections later on). It doesn’t matter what you write – full sentences, separate words, some quotes, questions, or separate phrases. The main thing is not to stop writing and to produce some set of raw material with which you will then work further in a more conscious and analytical manner.
Combine search for ideas with active movement; it is proven that people come across excellent ideas when they fulfill activities absolutely unrelated to the idea search. No matter how contradictory it sounds, it is a fact, so use the discoveries and achievements of modern science to aid your material search! Move across the room, perform some slight workout (or even go for a walk or to the gym), but keep your paper and pen next to you all the time. At any moment when you think of some writing topic, put it all down and continue your movements or exercises. After the physical exercise session, you will be able to sit down and analyze all you have stumbled upon.
Voicing ideas aloud is much more effective than simple thinking about them. All of us might have noticed that good decisions and interesting ideas come to our minds when we discuss them with somebody, thus voicing them aloud. So, why not use this difference to your advantage? Obtain a tape recorder or use the one in your smartphone to conduct self-talk – you will be surprised how easily and quickly your topic and evidence with surface and shape into a good writing material.
Another method of brainstorming that many writers successfully utilize is that of visualization. It is commonly applied as an extension of the freewriting exercise and can supplement many more useful ideas for the writing process. To complete it, draw many circles on the paper and fill them with sentences, ideas, and fragments that you have come up with during the freewriting exercise. After this is done, try to visualize links between those ideas and concepts by drawing lines between them. In such a way, you will be able to organize your ideas in a hierarchical way, prioritize some of them, and set aside the things that do not fit your writing at all.
Finally, effective brainstorming may be conducted with the help of outlining. This is a pre-writing exercise that helps to organize and structure ideas in the order of their introduction to the reader. To complete it effectively, first write a topic sentence for each paragraph – these will be your central guiding ideas around which you will structure further details of content. Based on the major idea of the writing, compose a couple of sentences that will shape the backbone of your introduction, then search for evidence in support of each topic sentence, and look at the entire picture with a detached, critical view. An outline is a skeleton of your writing – it is easy to see the whole writing by analyzing the outline and making adjustments early at the start to avoid later revisions and rewrites.