Posted by Jeff Wyman on January 21, 2015
Created by Christie Riegelhaupt with Canva
It is every student’s nightmare. A deadline for a research paper looms, but a laptop screen stays blank. We’ve all experienced it: writer’s block. Writer’s block is often a symptom of being unprepared.
Much attention is given to the actual act of writing, but we often forget that prewriting is essential to successful writing. Prewriting—as the name implies—is the process that precedes writing. It includes researching, brainstorming, and planning. Prewriting exercises can help prevent writer’s block and, in turn, free students from needless frustration.
There are no wrong answers to prewriting exercises. The goal is to explore a research topic. Eventually, interesting ideas and questions will emerge, which will lead to a well-developed research thesis.
5 PREWRITING ACTIVITIES:
Start with a topic and then list words related to the main topic. Keep listing until ideas run out. Circle words that are worth pursing further.
Image by Jeff Wyman via Microsoft Word
Similar to listing, clustering is great for visual learners. Start with a topic and then branch off with related words. Keep branching until ideas run out.
3. FREE WRITING
Start free writing with a sentence that summarizes a topic. Then write anything that comes to mind about a topic. Forget about spelling and grammar. Writing well is not the goal; brainstorming is. Just write. Specify duration and don’t stop until time is up.
Sometimes students need structure. Journalistic questions are a great place to start. Ask and answer: who, what, when, where, why, and how?
Prewriting need not involve writing at all. Discussion among peers can inspire great ideas. Discussion can also be used in tandem with other prewriting exercises (i.e. make a list while discussing).