Did you ever work on a creative project—paint a picture, make a quilt, build a wooden picnic table or deck? If you did, you know that you go through a development stage that’s kind of messy, a stage in which you try different configurations and put the pieces together in different ways, before you say “aha” and a pattern emerges.
Writing is a creative project, and writers go through the same messy stage. For writers, the development stage involves playing with words and ideas—playing with writing. Prewriting is the start of the writing process, the messy, “play” stage in which writers jot down, develop, and try out different ideas, the stage in which it’s fine to be free-ranging in thought and language. Prewriting is intended to be free-flowing, to be a time in which you let your ideas and words flow without caring about organization, grammar, and the formalities of writing.
There are many ways to develop ideas for writing, including:
- Using a journal to record observations and thoughts
- Mapping or diagramming
- Asking defining questions
- Noting pros and cons
- Responding to a text