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Brainstorming is an informal way of generating topics to write about, or points to

make about your topic. It can be done at any time during the writing process. You
can brainstorm the topics for a whole paper or just a conclusion or an example. The
important point about brainstorming is that there should be no pressure to be
"brilliant." Students should simply open their minds to whatever pops into them.
Think of it as a kind of free association. When I say "literacy" what pops into your
mind? Much of what the students will come up with will not be useful, but that's
okay. Part of brainstorming will involve a selection process.

For many of us, writing is largely a solitary activity. We discover ideas, conduct research,
compose rough drafts, revise, and finally edit--all with little or no help from others. However,
writing doesn't always have to be such a private affair.

Working with others can help us to become better writers. Brainstorming is a group project that's
especially useful for generating, focusing, and organizing ideas for an essay or a report.

A brainstorming group may be small (two or three writers) or large (an entire class or office
team). Begin a session by introducing a subject to the group--either one that has been assigned or
one that you have chosen on your own.

Invite the participants to contribute any ideas they may have concerning your subject. No idea
should be rejected out of hand.

The most important quality of a brainstorming session is its openness. The members of the group
should feel free to share their thoughts without fear of criticism. Later you'll have time to
evaluate the various suggestions. For now, let one idea lead freely to another.

In this way, brainstorming is like freewriting: it helps us to discover information and a sense of
direction without inducing the fear of making mistakes or appearing foolish.

Taking Notes

Take brief notes during the brainstorming session (or right afterwards), but don't be so busy
taking notes that you cut yourself off from the exchange of ideas. After the session--which may
last from 10 minutes to half an hour or longer--you can reflect on the various suggestions.

The information that you gather while brainstorming should prove useful later when you begin
your draft.

Practice

Like freewriting, effective brainstorming takes practice, and so don't be disappointed if your first
session is not very productive. Many people find it difficult at first to exchange ideas without
stopping to criticize. Just remember that your aim is to stimulate thinking, not inhibit it.
1. A method of shared problem solving in which all members of a group spontaneously
contribute ideas.
2. A similar process undertaken by a person to solve a problem by rapidly generating a
variety of possible solutions.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/brainstorming#ixzz1Jru8Xcys

Brainstorming

Brainstorming, like freewriting, is a prewriting technique designed to bring subconscious ideas


into consciousness. It's a good technique to use when you know a general subject you're
interested in writing about but don't exactly know what aspect of the subject you want to pursue.
Brainstorming is like a stream-of-consciousness technique in which you rapidly record all ideas
related to a general subject. All ideas are equally acceptable; the purpose of brainstorming is to
identify as many ideas related to the subject as possible.
Most likely you have either experienced brainstorming in a business setting or have seen it
portrayed on television or film: the ad exec holds up a product and says to the advertising team,
"All right, people, let's pitch ideas to sell this soap!," and a person standing by a flip chart jots
down ideas frantically as employees shout them out.

Brainstorming also involves a second step. Once you've exhausted your ideas about the subject,
you need to go back to those ideas and review them, crossing some off, linking others that are
related, and marking some that seem more important than others. You can group and re-group
ideas that you've generated, and perhaps decide to pursue some ideas further through more
brainstorming or other types of prewriting.

Sample of Brainstorming
subject: Soup
chicken
medicinal properties
soup recipes
dinner
water quality and its effect on flavor of soup
web site for soup
cultures
mMediterranean soup with lamb intestines
vegetable soups
soup spots on clothing
certain cities o.k. for men eating soup to sling necktie over
shoulder
soup etiquette
side or point of spoon in mouth
stone soup children's story
new diet craze
There are many ways in which the writer could work with these ideas. Some of the ideas fall into
logical groups (e.g., "chicken," "vegetable," and "mediterranean" are types of soup). Other ideas
can be developed through more prewriting. For example, the writer could take one of the ideas--
soup etiquette--and generate a list of the different, accepted ways of eating soup in various parts
of the country (something that might eventually turn into a humorous essay and a commentary
on regional cultures). Or the writer could decide that a topic such as medicinal properties of soup
merited further research and might ask a series of questions to further narrow that topic and
generate a research question. And the writer might cross out some ideas that don't seem useful
for the writing's purpose (e.g., "soup recipes" may not be appropriate for a college-level
analytical research paper). Any of these next steps is appropriate.
Freewriting

Freewriting helps you identify subjects in which you are interested. It assumes that you know
your interests subconsciously but may not be able to identify them consciously, and it assumes
that you can bring your interests into consciousness by writing about them (as writing equals
thinking). Freewriting is like stream-of-consciousness writing in which you write down whatever
happens to be in your thoughts at the moment. After you do a number of freewritings, you may
find that you have come back to certain subjects again and again. Repeated subjects are good for
further development through writing, as they obviously are important in your thoughts.

To freewrite, use your computer or get paper and pencil, whatever is more comfortable for you.
Get a kitchen timer. Set the timer for five minutes. Write down whatever comes into your head
during the five minutes without concerning yourself with complete thoughts, whole sentences, or
correct spelling or punctuation. Don't even be concerned about making sense in the writing. Just
concentrate on recording your thoughts and filling as much space as possible before the five
minutes elapse. If you can't think of anything to write, just write "don't know don't know" until
you have other thoughts. If you think that this exercise is stupid, then write "this is stupid this is
stupid" until you have other thoughts. Remember, the purpose of freewriting is to fill as much
space with as many words as possible in the five minutes of writing time. After the first five
minutes, rest a minute and read over what you have written, then follow the procedure at least
two more times. Stop at this point and do something else. Do another series of five-minute
freewritings later in the day. You may be able to discern common threads (repeated ideas) after
you do a number of freewritings. The ideas you repeat are good ones for essays as they obviously
are ideas that interest you.

Sample of Freewriting

Read the following set of three freewritings. Can you find recurrent thoughts that would be
interesting for the writer to develop?
freewriting. don't know. don't know. this is harder than I thought it would be.
worried. what if I don't have any ideas to bring out. the writer's perpetual
concern--lack of ideas. Cliches. wonder how they got started? had meaning at
one time. say "every dog has his day" now and people will jump at you for using
sexist language. don't know. don't know. don't know. don't know. hear the timer
ticking. time. so much to do and so little time to do it in. what is time? arbitrary
or not? different for different people. so many people pressed for time now.
wonder if time went more slowly in grandparents' day, if they needed 24 hrs. to
do what we now do in 12. they had to use washboards, coal heat. greenhouse
effect. are we greenhousing? greenhouse should have a nice, flowering plant
connotation, not self-destruction. destruction by plants. Little Shop of Horrors.
plants going crazy. at least the weeds in the garden do.

don't know. don't know. don't know. don't know. don't know. wish the 5 min.
would go faster. fast time. slow time. fast time when you're doing something you
like. slow time waiting in dentist's office or in any place where you'd rather not
be. Slow time for children waiting for something special to happen and fast when
it's happening. hard to write write write write write. right. what is right? Orville
and Wilbur were Wright. bad puns to fill the 5 min. Why do people groan at
puns? wonder how that got started. don't know. don't know.
do not like bugs in summer. flies and mosquitoes the worst. Read somewhere that
June is "kill the filthy fly" month. I agree. hate those large flies that buzz you,
usually when you're trying to eat lunch. read about cluster flies recently. they
seem to cluster around your coffee when you go out of the room. then the big
question, did they dip into it or not? mosquitoes as bad at night. like divebombers
in your ears. don't know. don't know. don't know. there are other annoyances,
part of everyday life. call waiting, caller id, especially when you're on the calling
end. telephone solicitors. door-to-door salespeople. rude people in general. the
person in the express line at the supermarket with 20 items in the cart. could go
on about this one.
One obvious topic for this writer seems to be "time," or the different ways in which we perceive
time (adult vs. children's perception of time, how time is counted in sporting events, etc.).
"Annoyances" may be another topic, as the writer mentions that he/she "could go on about this
one." Actually, any topic mentioned here is a possibility for an essay ("bugs," "cliches,"
"greenhouse effect," "puns"); the choice depends on the writer's purpose (research or non-
research writing?), interests (for which topic can I most easily generate information?), audience
(what will interest my readers?), and parameters (what is the type of writing assigned?).

Although many students don’t like the idea of doing extra work before they actually start their
homework, writing an impressive essay actually requires putting in a little extra effort prior to
putting together a final draft. Prewriting techniques involve warming up your – the student’s –
brain, organizing ideas, and setting up a plan before diving straight into writing a composition. It
may take just a little extra time, but you will find that if you practice some prewriting before
every essay you write, your papers will be better written overall, which will in effect give a
better overall grade. Ten or fifteen minutes of extra work may be the difference between a B and
an A grade for your paper. And, with all of the different techniques you can use to prewrite, there
really is no excuse not to use at least one of them.
Brainstorming

Writing down every idea that is related to your topic in a list form is one of the simplest forms of
prewriting, which is called brainstorming. The great thing about brainstorming is that you can
put anything in the list that pops into your head. If your topic is on birds and you have random
thoughts like,

-They fly

-They’re pretty

-They squawk

-They poop on people’s heads

All of those things would be fine because your brainstorming ideas are related to your topic on
birds.

Free Writing

There is nothing more freeing than knowing you can write whatever you want without worrying
about grammar, spelling, structure, or coherence. That is the joy of free writing – you are free to
make mistakes and write whatever you want. The trick is to force yourself to continually keep
your pen on the paper and write whatever thought comes to mind, while trying to think of your
essay’s subject. You may go off topic at times, but that is okay. You do not want to stop or
correct your free writing because you may lose a train of thought that could be useful to you
later. Just force yourself to keep writing, and you will eventually have enough material to use in
your composition. By reading over your free writing afterwards, you should highlight or
underline any ideas you find useful to your essay.

Prewriting Strategies

Pre-writing strategies use writing to generate and clarify ideas. While many writers have
traditionally created outlinesbefore beginning writing, there are other possible prewriting
activities. Five useful strategies are

• brainstorming
• clustering
• free writing ,
• looping, and
• asking the six journalists' questions

Brainstorming
Brainstorming, also called listing, is a process of generating a lot of information within a short
time by building on the association of previous terms you have mentioned.

• Jot down all the possible terms that emerge from the general topic you are
thinking about. This procedure works especially well if you work in a team. All
team members can generate ideas, with one member acting as scribe. Don't
worry about editing or throwing out what might not be a good idea. Simply
write down a lot of possibilities.
• Group the items that you have listed according to arrangements that make
sense to you.
• Give each group a label. Now you have a topic with possible points of
development.
• Write a sentence about the label you have given the group of ideas. Now you
have a topic sentence or possibly a thesis statement.

Clustering

Clustering is also called mind mapping or idea mapping. It is a strategy which allows you to
explore the relationships between ideas.

• Put the subject in the center of a page. Circle or underline it.


• As you think of other ideas, link the new ideas to the central circle with lines.
• As you think of ideas that relate to the new ideas, add to those in the same
way.

The result will look like a web on your page. Locate clusters of interest to you, and use the terms
you attached to the key ideas as departure points for your paper. Clustering is especially useful in
determining the relationship between ideas. You will be able to distinguish how the ideas fit
together, especially where there is an abundance of ideas. Clustering your ideas lets you see them
visually in a different way, so that you can more readily understand possible directions your
paper may take.

Freewriting

Freewriting is a process of generating a lot of information by writing non-stop. It allows you to


focus on a specific topic, but forces you to write so quickly that you are unable to edit any of
your ideas.

• Freewrite on the assignment or general topic for several 5-10 minutes non-
stop. Force yourself to continue writing even if nothing specific comes to
mind. This freewriting will include many ideas; at this point, generating ideas
is what is important, not the grammar or the spelling.
• After you've finished freewriting, look back over what you have written and
highlight the most prominent and interesting ideas; then you can begin all
over again, with a tighter focus. You will narrow your topic and, in the
process, you will generate several relevant points about the topic.

Looping
Looping is a freewriting technique that allows you to increasingly focus your ideas in trying to
discover a writing topic. You loop one 5-10 minute freewriting after another, so you have a
sequence of freewritings, each more specific than the other. The same rules that apply to
freewriting apply to looping: write quickly, do not edit, and do not stop.Freewrite on an
assignment for 5-10 minutes. Then, read through your freewriting, looking for interesting topics,
ideas, phrases, or sentences. Circle those you find interesting. A variation on looping is to have a
classmate circle ideas in your freewriting that interests him or her.Then freewrite again for 5-10
minutes on one of the circled topics. You should end up with a more specific freewriting about a
particular topic.Loop your freewriting again, circling another interesting topic, idea, phrase, or
sentence.When you have finished four or five rounds of looping, you will begin to have specific
information that indicates what you are thinking about a particular topic. You may even have the
basis for a tentative thesis or an improved idea for an approach to your assignment when you
have finished.

The Journalists' Questions

Journalists traditionally ask six questions when they are writing assignments, 5 W's and 1 H:
Who?, What?, Where?, When?, Why?, How? You can use these questions to explore the topic
you are writing about for an assignment. A key to using the journalists' questions is to make
them flexible enough to account for the specific details of your topic. For instance, if your topic
is the rise and fall of the Puget Sound tides and its effect on salmon spawning, you may have
very little to say about Who? if your focus doesn't account for human involvement. On the other
hand, some topics may be heavy on the Who?, especially if human involvement is a crucial part
of the topic. Possible generic questions you can ask using the six journalists' questions follow:

Who?:

Who are the participants? Who is affected? Who are the primary actors? Who
are the secondary actors?

What?:

What is the topic? What is the significance of the topic? What is the basic
problem? What are the issues?

Where?:

Where does the activity take place? Where does the problem or issue have its
source? At what place is the cause or effect of the problem most visible?

When?:

When is the issue most apparent? (past? present? future?) When did the
issue or problem develop? What historical forces helped shape the problem
or issue and at what point in time will the problem or issue culminate in a
crisis? When is action needed to address the issue or problem?
Why?:

Why did the issue or problem arise? Why is it (your topic) an issue or problem
at all? Why did the issue or problem develop in the way that it did?

How?:

How is the issue or problem significant? How can it be addressed? How does
it affect the participants? How can the issue or problem be resolved?

The journalists' questions are a powerful way to develop a great deal of information about a topic
very quickly. Learning to ask the appropriate questions about a topic takes practice, however. At
times during writing an assignment, you may wish to go back and ask the journalists' questions
again to clarify important points that may be getting lost in your planning and drafting.

Prewriting Strategies

Pre-writing strategies use writing to generate and clarify ideas. While many writers have
traditionally created outlinesbefore beginning writing, there are other possible prewriting
activities. Five useful strategies are

• brainstorming
• clustering
• free writing ,
• looping, and
• asking the six journalists' questions

Brainstorming

Brainstorming, also called listing, is a process of generating a lot of information within a short
time by building on the association of previous terms you have mentioned.

• Jot down all the possible terms that emerge from the general topic you are
thinking about. This procedure works especially well if you work in a team. All
team members can generate ideas, with one member acting as scribe. Don't
worry about editing or throwing out what might not be a good idea. Simply
write down a lot of possibilities.
• Group the items that you have listed according to arrangements that make
sense to you.
• Give each group a label. Now you have a topic with possible points of
development.
• Write a sentence about the label you have given the group of ideas. Now you
have a topic sentence or possibly a thesis statement.

Clustering
Clustering is also called mind mapping or idea mapping. It is a strategy which allows you to
explore the relationships between ideas.

• Put the subject in the center of a page. Circle or underline it.


• As you think of other ideas, link the new ideas to the central circle with lines.
• As you think of ideas that relate to the new ideas, add to those in the same
way.

The result will look like a web on your page. Locate clusters of interest to you, and use the terms
you attached to the key ideas as departure points for your paper. Clustering is especially useful in
determining the relationship between ideas. You will be able to distinguish how the ideas fit
together, especially where there is an abundance of ideas. Clustering your ideas lets you see them
visually in a different way, so that you can more readily understand possible directions your
paper may take.

Freewriting

Freewriting is a process of generating a lot of information by writing non-stop. It allows you to


focus on a specific topic, but forces you to write so quickly that you are unable to edit any of
your ideas.

• Freewrite on the assignment or general topic for several 5-10 minutes non-
stop. Force yourself to continue writing even if nothing specific comes to
mind. This freewriting will include many ideas; at this point, generating ideas
is what is important, not the grammar or the spelling.
• After you've finished freewriting, look back over what you have written and
highlight the most prominent and interesting ideas; then you can begin all
over again, with a tighter focus. You will narrow your topic and, in the
process, you will generate several relevant points about the topic.

Looping

Looping is a freewriting technique that allows you to increasingly focus your ideas in trying to
discover a writing topic. You loop one 5-10 minute freewriting after another, so you have a
sequence of freewritings, each more specific than the other. The same rules that apply to
freewriting apply to looping: write quickly, do not edit, and do not stop.Freewrite on an
assignment for 5-10 minutes. Then, read through your freewriting, looking for interesting topics,
ideas, phrases, or sentences. Circle those you find interesting. A variation on looping is to have a
classmate circle ideas in your freewriting that interests him or her.Then freewrite again for 5-10
minutes on one of the circled topics. You should end up with a more specific freewriting about a
particular topic.Loop your freewriting again, circling another interesting topic, idea, phrase, or
sentence.When you have finished four or five rounds of looping, you will begin to have specific
information that indicates what you are thinking about a particular topic. You may even have the
basis for a tentative thesis or an improved idea for an approach to your assignment when you
have finished.

The Journalists' Questions


Journalists traditionally ask six questions when they are writing assignments, 5 W's and 1 H:
Who?, What?, Where?, When?, Why?, How? You can use these questions to explore the topic
you are writing about for an assignment. A key to using the journalists' questions is to make
them flexible enough to account for the specific details of your topic. For instance, if your topic
is the rise and fall of the Puget Sound tides and its effect on salmon spawning, you may have
very little to say about Who? if your focus doesn't account for human involvement. On the other
hand, some topics may be heavy on the Who?, especially if human involvement is a crucial part
of the topic. Possible generic questions you can ask using the six journalists' questions follow:

Who?:

Who are the participants? Who is affected? Who are the primary actors? Who
are the secondary actors?

What?:

What is the topic? What is the significance of the topic? What is the basic
problem? What are the issues?

Where?:

Where does the activity take place? Where does the problem or issue have its
source? At what place is the cause or effect of the problem most visible?

When?:

When is the issue most apparent? (past? present? future?) When did the
issue or problem develop? What historical forces helped shape the problem
or issue and at what point in time will the problem or issue culminate in a
crisis? When is action needed to address the issue or problem?

Why?:

Why did the issue or problem arise? Why is it (your topic) an issue or problem
at all? Why did the issue or problem develop in the way that it did?

How?:

How is the issue or problem significant? How can it be addressed? How does
it affect the participants? How can the issue or problem be resolved?

The journalists' questions are a powerful way to develop a great deal of information about a topic
very quickly. Learning to ask the appropriate questions about a topic takes practice, however. At
times during writing an assignment, you may wish to go back and ask the journalists' questions
again to clarify important points that may be getting lost in your planning and drafting.
Freewriting

Many people find that they can bring ideas for developing a topic to the surface through
freewriting, a strategy designed to "free" ideas from your subconscious mind and get them down
on paper. This kind of writing is "free" in another sense; you don't need to worry about
punctuation, correct grammar usage, etc. Your main objective is to write for a sustained period of
time (ten to fifteen minutes) without stopping.

Freewriting can be open or focused. If you really do not have any idea what to write about, just
begin to write down your impressions and thoughts in an "open" freewrite. Filling the page with
words may coax something from your mind. Once you have done this, choose an idea or two
from your open freewrite to explore in a more "focused" freewrite. Writing down your thoughts
about a more specific idea that came up in your open freewrite will narrow down your topic even
more, and hopefully will lead to the idea that will be the basis for your paper.

If you get stuck while you are freewriting and can not think of anything else to write, write the
same word over and over again until you can think of something to write. This way you will not
break your train of thought.

Brainstorming

Another way to get ideas down on paper quickly is through brainstorming Start with a significant
word or phrase, and try to record everything that comes to your mind. If you reach a point where
you can no longer come up with any new ideas, ask a friend to help you brainstorm some fresh
topics.

After you have finished brainstorming, take a look at the material you have generated. What
items seem to go together? What further connections can you see? What ideas and terms do you
want to develop? What idea or concept seems to dominate your list? What material is surprising?
You may decide to use most of the items you produced, or you may find only a few fragments to
keep. However, one of these fragments may point the way to a good paper.

3.1 Brainstorming round a topic


Brainstorming is a useful pre-writing technique. This technique is generally used when the whole class has
been asked to write on the same topic. In this activity, students can work alone, in pairs or in small groups to
generate their own ideas, to follow their own train of thought. For example, the teacher first writes a topic for
an
essay on the blackboard, then gives individual students five or ten minutes to brainstorm all the ideas they can
think
of and write down as many thoughts as possible on the topic without paying attention to organization, sentence
structure or spelling. Spontaneity is important here. It is not important whether answers are right or wrong.

3.3 Rapid free writing


Rapid free writing, just like warming up before a game, flexes students’ writing muscles (Raimes, 1996).
This pre-writing technique simply requires students to write as much as possible about a topic. In this activity,
individual students can generate as many ideas as possible without worrying about spelling, punctuation,
grammar,
logic, organization or accuracy, in order to develop fluency in writing. Of course, these above-mentioned
elements
of writing are important, but students’ concern about them can sometimes inhibit the free flow of their ideas,
so
students are better leaving those things for later consideration. In free writing, for example, students should
first
write the essay topic at the top of the paper to remind themselves what the writing is about, and then begin to
free-write on the topic within a given period of time without stopping so that they can let one idea spark
another
idea in free association. What they write rapidly on the paper may be a word, a phrase or a sentence. In this
way,
they will soon be surprised to find they have much to say instead of little.

Free writing is a form of brainstorming that can help students to find a focus in
writing their essays. They can write about why they chose that particular topic and what
about the topic interests or inspires them. Peter Elbow, "a contemporary theorist who
advocates expressionism in pedagogy and composition," believes that students should
write, freely, for at least ten minutes. Elbow states that the idea of free writing isn’t, "to
produce a polished (or even "good") piece of writing, but to simply get in the habit of
writing without censoring and editing. The only rule to follow in free writing is to simply
not stop writing." Students should not focus on spelling, grammar, or punctuation, but
rather on creating a central premise for their paper. Once the students are done, ask them
if their ideas are too broad, and/or could their main topic be more specific. Elbow also
says, "In free writing, "[n]ever stop to look back, to cross something out, to wonder how
to spell something, to wonder what word or thought to use, or to think about what you are
doing." A great way to free write without concentrating on mistakes is to use the
technique, "blind writing."

Freewriting

You have a writer in you and an editor in you. The writer just wants to write. The editor, on the
other hand, likes to critique what you write. In fact, the editor can be overwhelming at times,
interrupting your writing with constant questions, making you doubt almost every sentence that
you write. The editor asks, "Is the comma in the right place? Is this the right word? Is this
confusing? Will people understand what I mean? Is this a complete sentence" The editor plays an
important role. Without the editor, our writing would be a mess, but during the prewriting
process, it might be useful to ignore the editor for a while and just let the writer free. That can
occur with freewriting.

John decides that a few minutes of freewriting might help him explore more ideas about the
photograph. He opens up a blank page in his word processor, gives himself ten minutes to type,
puts the photograph where he can see it, and just starts typing. John's goal is to type as many
words about the photograph that he can in just ten minutes, without stopping to change anything,
in fact, without even stopping. As soon as John realizes that he has stopped, he just gets his
fingers moving on the keyboard. As he is typing, John does not even look at the screen. That's
what the editor in him wants to do, but this time is devoted to the writer alone. Below is what
John typed in his ten minutes of freewriting.
Okay, a mother and her children. Two kids and a bsaby. The baby is dirty and has fat cheeks.
The two kids look sad, even though you can’t see their faces. The mother does not look sad. She
looks like she is concentrating on something. She is looking out at the distance. What the future
holds for her. Trying to think of a way out of the situation. Their clothes are dirty and tattered.
The kids are wearing shirts or coats that are too big for them. Probably hand-me-downs. Okay,
keep tuyping. Black and white photograph. No color. It looks depressing because there is no
color. The mother’s shirt is open a little, Maybe she was breat feeding her baby. The baby is
sleeping, has a full stomach. The kids look like they have hair cuts with a bowl put on their
heads. At least they have haircuts. The mother is trying to take care of them. Even the mother’s
fingernails are dirty. The fingernails also looked like they are short—from working in fields. She
does not not time to worry about those things. No water to bathe in? It looks like they are in
some sort of tent. 1936. During the “Dust Bowl” days. They are migrant workers who are trying
to find work. Mother is sitting up,. Not looking down in defeat. She has to be stong for the kids.
She has responsibilities./

What John has here is a mess, but this is a sign that he successfully prevented the editor in him
from interfering with his writing. (Conversely, this example shows the importance of the editor's
job later on in the writing process!) John has attempted to capture on the page some of those
fleeting thoughts that were running through his mind in the ten minutes that he was thinking
about the photograph. The biggest challenge for John during the ten minutes that he was
prewriting was to just let himself write without stopping to make any corrections or to read or
correct what he had written, but he did it.

Did John come up with anything valuable? Maybe.

Notice that there are some ideas here that could eventually find their way into John's essay: that
the photograph was taken during the "Dust Bowl" days, when many migrant workers were
suffering from extreme poverty and hardship; that the recent haircuts of the children suggest that
the mother is trying to take care of her family; that the mother may have been breast feeding her
baby; that the photograph being in black and white adds to its overall impression; that the mother
looks as it she is trying to be strong for her children and looks as if she is thinking about what to
do. All of these are good ideas.

By freewriting, John was able to discover some new ideas about the photograph. It is unlikely
that any of the sentences in John's freewriting passage will end up in his essay--most of the
sentences are weak--but freewriting did prove to be a good way for John to generate ideas that he
might want to present and develop in an essay, once he gets to the stage of actually writing a
draft.

5. Clustering

"Clustering" is another prewriting technique that allows the writer to generate ideas and also
suggests ways in which the different ideas might be logically related, which can help the writer
get a sense of how the essay could eventually be organized.
John decides to try some clustering to help him with his prewriting on Migrant Mother. John
uses pen and paper for this prewriting activity. He begins by writing the words "Migrant Mother"
in the middle of a page, and he then circles those words. From this circle in the center, John
draws lines out to sets of other circles words, each representing a major idea coming from the
center. Then, around these other sets of words, John draws still more lines, circles, and words as
he attempts to create a diagram of ideas about the painting. Below is an illustration of John's
clustering activity.

As with the other prewriting activities, John had generated some ideas here, but he has also given
a sense of organization to those ideas. From the "Migrant Mother" bubble, we have three major
ideas: the family being poor, the mother supporting the family, and the mother not giving up.
Then, from each of the bubbles containing these ideas, we have aspects of the photograph that
relate to it. For example, "baby in lap" and "breastfed baby" are connected to the "mother
supporting family" bubble because they both relate to the idea that the mother is supporting her
family.
Clustering also can be beneficial because it allows you to "see" how various facts and ideas
might be logically related. After his clustering activity, John is getting closer to the point when
he can begin a draft of his essay.