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Brainstorming Techniques for Writers

Updated on January 8, 2020
Anne Carr profile image

Anne is a writer and teacher with a passion for self-expression and publishing.


Prewriting or brainstorming is the first step in the writing process and the most crucial.
Prewriting or brainstorming is the first step in the writing process and the most crucial.

Why Should I Brainstorm?

Brainstorming can sometimes feel like the most difficult part of writing, which is why in many cases, people choose to skip this crucial step and go right into the rough draft phase of their writing. However, brainstorming is essential if you want to create strong, meaningful writing. Think about the idea of pre-planning and brainstorming as your way to get every thought out on the page and organize it in a way that makes sense to you. This is essentially your outline for how you are going to attack whatever project or task you are about to do.

Getting Started

    • The first thing you want to do when you are brainstorming is figure out what your purpose is. Are you writing an essay, short story, or novel? Are you seeking to persuade, inform, or entertain your audience? You must understand the purpose and format of your writing before you can undertake the pre-planning process.

    • Once you have figured out your assignment, think about how you want to brainstorm. Do you want to use a web or a venn diagram? Are you outlining or simply writing out key words? There are many different brainstorming and outlining templates you can find online for free. If you are the type of person that needs a more open format to the brainstorming process, however, consider using a dot grid or dot journal to doodle and make notes. Sometimes pictures can be your best ally when it comes to pre-planning. Visual learners tend to think in pictures and scenes and less in a chronological format. If you are not sure where to begin, look at a few different templates and see which ones you are attracted to the most.

    • Before you can really feel comfortable with your brainstorming technique, you have to practice. No one ever got anywhere with their writing without taking the time to really practice and learn what works best for them. You are the person who knows your brain the best, and you know how you think. Use this knowledge to your advantage to help you come up with a plan.

Suit Your Needs

Use brainstorming to suit your particular needs for the project or assignment you are working on.
Use brainstorming to suit your particular needs for the project or assignment you are working on.

The Bottom Line

However much or little you do, brainstorming and outlining before moving write into the writing process will help you. When you think and plan ahead, you get rid of ideas that might seem too off topic, and you save yourself a lot of time and hassle later on. If you are actively thinking about your purpose and what you want your audience to gain from this topic, essay, or story, then you are already doing a better job with your writing than you were before. The great thing about brainstorming is also the fact that no two people brainstorm in the same way; you don’t have to stick to rigid formats to plan your writing. You have total and absolute freedom to plan as you see fit, but the important thing is that you plan to begin with. If you start implementing the brainstorming process in your writing now, you should notice a difference in your writing. You will be more confident, organized, and prepared for whatever writing project comes your way next.


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