I have no idea what prewriting is before this class. I thought I was doing prewriting because I organized my thoughts and listed them as an outline. When thinking of some theories could be used in a paper, I started looking it up rather than put these ideas in an inventory before writing.
As an international student, to use correct grammars and appropriate phrases are difficult. I always worry if a sentence makes sense to other people. Besides this, the most essential part I am struggling with is how to organize my thoughts and represent them in a proper way. There are often several points I would like to express but I have difficulty in structuring them well. So my papers end up with a mess of various points. Sometimes, I even think I have not made my points yet but need to stop because of the length limit.
Through the prewriting exercise, I know some methods to tackle with my problems. Before Tuesday’s class, Jeff asked us to come up with a concrete phenomenon we are interested in. I wrote my idea down on a paper and tried to connect it with theories of phenomenology. However, just like my previous experience, I have too many things want to cover but fail to organize them. Applying related theories to the concrete phenomenon is also tough because different thoughts came into my mind at the same time. Finally, I write a sentence about lifeword, one about intersubjectivity, one about AT and the others are about various things.
On Thusday’s class, I followed the guidelines and examples of prewriting and started practicing. I browsed the readings and have an inventory of concepts about phenomenology. Then, I tried to use concise words to summarize the parts I am interested in. During the process, I reviewed what I have learned and also keep reflecting to the concrete phenomenon I will work on. Till the final part: creating dialogue between these two, I have clearer idea about the content of a paper and find the inventory ready-to-hand when I need to refer to it.
I would say the prewriting exercise is helpful. One question I have is, when we write down characteristics about our own phenomenon, how deep should we go into? Can I just list bullets of examples and a sentence of explanation? Or I have to think thoroughly of each concept I have and write it in detailed? For now, I only have several points but I think I will have more when writing a paper.
You made some great points about the increased benefits pre-writing may exhibit to international students who are writing papers in their non-primary language.
To address your question, I don’t believe there is a correct answer, and it is to your determination and digression how deep you go. Obviously, with a more in-depth pre-writing exercise, writing the actual paper should prove to be much easier and less time consuming.
Personally, I believe the purpose of pre-writing is more about getting your main arguments and points onto a piece of paper, rather than diving into details. With only key bullets listed, gaining a broad perspective of how you plan to support your thesis should be easier. Organization of the paper may prove to become more difficult if quotes and other writing is clouding the main points.
Ultimately though, how each person conducts their pre-writing is up to them and there is no correct way to do it. The more you pre-write, the more comfortable you will become with a process which best suits your needs.