On Prewriting

Thanks Marty for a great prewriting session. I found this exercise to be very informative and effective in changing how I feel about prewriting.

I began Phase 1 with a list. The goal of this list was to present ideas, statements, and terms that I already knew; no new information or research necessary. The list wasn’t exhaustive by any means, but covered the topic as well as I could. After the list, I spent some time reading about the topic; I call it reading and not research because I wanted to approach the topic openly and casually in order to just see what was out there. Next, I decided to do some ‘free form prose’ and idea sketches. I began to write in order to see what from my reading had stuck. I was pleasantly surprised. In the free form writing, I went through the list and wrote whatever I knew about each term or idea, a paragraph for some, only a sentence for others, and in the instances where I didn’t remember or still didn’t understand, I allowed myself to write a question.

It was my experience that a solid Phase 1 leads to a solid Phase 2. I had already been thinking about some possible main ideas throughout Phase 1, so it was just a matter of getting it down on paper (or screen). The supporting ideas came easy as well, and the difficulty might exist in when to stop and say ‘enough’. One mistake I made was not recording the sources of my information, which wasted time when I had to relocate information.

Overall, a good experience.


  1. thismarty

    Thanks, Jordan!

    And I agree – it’s never too early to start bibliographizing (my word). If software like EndNote helps, great. But even if you just copy and paste URL’s and jot down notes, anything is better than nothing when it comes time to create a bibliography.

  2. jeffreybardzell

    I love the second paragraph here. What I especially like about it is how you deliberately take the pressure off of yourself. Not only do you do one thing at a time, but you tell yourself you are ONLY doing one thing at a time, so you can relax and just do it. That is exactly the spirit of prewriting! Too often, through bad planning and procrastination, as writers we end up not only having to do everything at once, but worse, we have to succeed and be right the first time. That is both difficult and decidedly not fun.

    Great entry!


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