Writing an essay, paper, report, or even a blog post can be daunting, unless you have a plan in place for organizing your work. A good plan can act like a map that guides you along each step of the way. Daily Writing Tips shares 5 valuable guidelines, beginning with . . .
Have you ever sat staring at a blank piece of paper or a blank document on your computer screen? You might have skipped the vital first stage of the writing process: prewriting. This covers everything you do before starting your rough draft. As a minimum, prewriting means coming up with an idea!
Ideas and Inspiration
Ideas are all around you. If you want to write but you don’t have any ideas, try:
- Using a writing prompt to get you started.
- Writing about incidents from your daily life, or childhood.
- Keeping a notebook of ideas – jotting down those thoughts that occur throughout the day.
- Creating a vivid character, and then writing about him/her.
Tip: Once you have an idea, you need to expand on it. Don’t make the mistake of jumping straight into your writing – you’ll end up with a badly structured piece.
Building on Your Idea
These are a couple of popular methods you can use to add flesh to the bones of your idea:
- Free writing: Open a new document or start a new page, and write everything that comes into your head about your chosen topic. Don’t stop to edit, even if you make mistakes.
- Brainstorming: Write the idea or topic in the center of your page. Jot down ideas that arise from it – sub-topics or directions you could take with the article.
Once you’ve done one or both of these, you need to select what’s going into your first draft.
Planning and Structure
Some pieces of writing will require more planning than others. Typically, longer pieces and academic papers need a lot of thought at this stage.
First, decide which ideas you’ll use. During your free writing and brainstorming, you’ll have come up with lots of thoughts. Some belong in this piece of writing: others can be kept for another time.
Then, decide how to order those ideas. Try to have a logical progression. Sometimes, your topic will make this easy: in this article, for instance, it made sense to take each step of the writing process in order. For a short story, try the eight-point story arc.