When you write about a subject you know well, you may not find it difficult to think of ideas. Sometimes, however, writing ideas do not come easily. When this happens, the prewriting activities that follow can help.
When you brainstorm, you try to think of all the things you know about a subject or all the possible ways of solving a problem. Although brainstorming can be done alone or in a group, a group can usually gather more information than an individual because there are several people to contribute ideas and information. What one person cannot see, another might be able to understand, and one person’s ideas often suggest ideas to others.
To brainstorm, free your mind of everything except the subject. Then allow your mind to roam freely over the subject, letting one idea touch off another. Thinking about what you have read or heard about the subject will help ideas come. Your ideas may come as single words, groups of words, or even sentences. For example, suppose you are brainstorming the subject of UFO’s. As you let your mind wander over the subject, you might have thoughts like these:
- Little green people with antennae and eight arms
- Spaceship that glows
- I once saw a movie called Close Encounters of the Third Kind about visitors from outer space.
- Reports about seeing UFO’s from all over the world
- Reports often aren’t believed
- Government agency that collects reports on UFO’s
- A man in Mississippi claims he was taken aboard a ship from outer space.
When you brainstorm by yourself, jot down ideas on a sheet of paper. For group brainstorming, listen to the other people and use their thoughts as springboards for your own. As ideas begin to come, have one member of the group record them.
Brainstorming can be useful to you in many ways. If your subject is a large one, you can narrow it by brainstorming. Another brainstorming session will help you discover what you already know about these reports. A third important use of brainstorming is to find out what you do not know, but need to research.