6 Steps to a Slam Dunk Brainstorm (Pre-Write), Part 1

6 Steps to a Slam Dunk Brainstorm (Pre-Write), Part 1




Step 1: Get Specific about the Purpose of the Brainstorm:

Ask yourself:

  • What is my goal in writing this piece?
  • What question do I want to answer?
  • What do I want to say to the reader?
  • What do I want the reader to know/know how to do when he is done reading?
  • What is the problem I want to solve?
  • Am I writing in response to what I’ve read or writing from the ground up?

Step 2: Give the Brainstorm Structure

Ask yourself:

  • Given what I know about this topic, which of the following brainstorming structures will best organize my ideas? 
  • How will I use this data and ideas in my writing?

Brainstorming structures for informational text writing:

  • Free-write ideas
  • Listing: bulleted words or phrases specific to the content
  • Leveling: list of things related to the big picture and sub-topics

Step 3: Set a timer (typically 3-8 minutes) and start writing all of your ideas, thoughts and insights down.

Brainstorming rules:

  • Write everything down
  • Avoid worrying about spelling, penmanship or grammar
  • Remember that you will have the opportunity to judge, connect, throw out ideas later so avoid judgment or self-consciousness about ideas
  • If you get stuck, talk to someone or peek on their brainstorm to jump-start your ideas
  • Stop periodically and re-read your brainstorm list to jump-start new ideas
  • If you get stuck, ask yourself, “What am I curious about [about the topic or argument]?”