Skip Navigation
Skip to Menu Toggle Button
Online Guide to Writing and Research

The Writing Process


Techniques to Get Started

How do you get started? This vexing question has doomed writers to many a sleepless night.  For most writers, writing is recursive, meaning repetitive in structure and process, but can also be messy and unpredictable. Because every individual is unique and thinks differently, it is best to choose a technique or method that fosters concentrated thinking.  Luckily, there are many techniques to choose from, and there is no need to worry about perfection at this point. If you are thinking and typing, you are in great shape. The purpose of utilizing prewriting techniques is to warm up your brain.

Writers have used many different techniques to generate ideas and get started. These techniques can even overcome barriers to writing, known as writer’s block. Writers can use these techniques at any point in their writing, not just at the beginning. When writers run out of ideas after a writing project is underway, these techniques can help them get moving again.

Below, and in the pages ahead, are some useful techniques for getting started. 

Common Prewriting Techniques

Write without worrying about whether the ideas will go into your paper later. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, punctuation, organization, or even logic during this stage. The point is to write whatever is on your mind about the topic freely. This allows you to get your ideas flowing without thinking about anything that might cause writer’s block.

What would a reporter ask about your topic? Write those questions and then the answers. This is a great way to motivate thinking.

Like freewriting, brainstorming involves generating ideas that come to mind but engages both the right and left sides of your brain. Some left-brain (linear) strategies include lists and outlines, question and answer, reporter questions, and cubing. Right brain (visual-spatial) strategies include idea maps, clusters, t-charts, and Venn diagrams.

Using webbing consists of writing the topic in the center of the page and surrounding it with thought bubbles (ideas). 

Webbing and chaining are similar, only the thought bubbles are linked and lead to one another.

When outlining, your ideas are structured and sequenced.

Journaling is another form of freewriting and helps generate ideas in a non-pressured way.


Key Takeaways

  • In the pages ahead, you will learn how to use these exercises and specific systematic techniques to gather your ideas in a way that makes sense to you.
  • The more ideas you generate at these prewriting stages, the better prepared you will be to organize these ideas later.

Mailing Address: 3501 University Blvd. East, Adelphi, MD 20783
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. © 2022 UMGC.
All links to external sites were verified at the time of publication. UMGC is not responsible for the validity or integrity of information located at external sites.

Table of Contents: Online Guide to Writing