As any writer can attest, writer’s block is a monster. Prewriting exercises are effective ways to fight the beast by honing your focus. Prewriting also allows you to form structure and meaning prior to your first draft.
To get you started with your writing project, here are four effective prewriting exercises:
If you’re still trying to narrow down a topic, try brainstorming for 10 minutes. Set a timer to prevent your brainstorms from becoming daydreams. Write down key phrases as you ponder questions such as, "What do I hope to accomplish with this document? What will my reader expect from the document? Why is my reader reading? What is most and least interesting about this topic/issue? How will my audience feel about the topic and how do they expect it to be organized?"
When time's up, read over your list and see what patterns or ideas keep cropping up. These clues may reveal what you find most important about the topic.
Start with one sentence about your topic. Then simply keep writing. If writer’s block gets you down, write whatever comes to mind, even if it's just nonsense. Don’t fret over grammar or spelling. Just keep writing! At the end of the freewrite, read what you came up with. Underline the most important concepts you plan to elaborate on in your first draft.
Throw the concept of complete sentences out the window. Instead, just list your ideas. Then, when you begin your first draft, you can go back to your list and cross off topics as you include them in your writing.
Draw a circle and write your main topic within it. Draw lines connecting main points to the topic. These main points essentially serve as the subjects of each paragraph or section of your writing. Create sub-topics off of each main topic, which are the points you plan to elaborate on. Clustering ensures you have enough meat for each subtopic to make it worth discussing in its own paragraph.
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What prewriting exercises do you do? How effective are they?
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