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Pre-Writing Strategies Tutorial » "Unconscious" Pre-Writing Strategies

"Unconscious" Pre-Writing Strategies

There are no templates to follow for the "unconscious" strategies—brainstorming, freewriting and nutshelling—but these strategies are easily adapted to the computer. Just open a file with your word processor and start typing...

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See Examples of "Unconscious" Pre-Writing Strategies


Brainstorming helps you to activate your own knowledge and ideas related to the assigned topic through a process of free association.

  1. Pick a word, idea, or concept that is pivotal to the assignment. Write this word or phrase at the top of a blank page.
  2. Quickly list all the words and phrases that the target brings to mind. Do not pause when writing, and do not write in complete sentences or try to correct spelling and grammatical errors. Don't try to connect your thoughts.
  3. Don't stop writing until you run out of associations.

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Freewriting can help you to bring your ideas and past associations with a given topic to the surface by allowing you to follow a train of thought nonstop.

  1. Pick a target word, idea or concept that is pivotal to the assignment. Use this word or phrase in a sentence, and write the sentence down.
  2. Quickly follow up with more sentences—whatever thoughts come to mind. Do not pause when writing or try to correct spelling and grammatical errors. Let your thoughts connect themselves—don't worry about whether they would make sense to someone else.
  3. Continue freewriting until you have exhausted your supply of ideas.

Invisible Writing

If you do freewriting on a computer, try turning down the screen brightness. If you can't see what you have written you may be less inclined to worry about grammar, spelling, and logical structure. Turn the brightness up again when you are done.

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The nutshelling strategy encourages you to lay out the substance of your paper in a few sentences, or a "nutshell." This forces you to distinguish major ideas from minor ones, and to decide how the major ideas are related to one another. In trying to state the gist of their thoughts, people often synthesize or combine ideas and create a new concept that expresses or encompasses all they have in mind; in this way, nutshelling can help you to be a creative thinker.

Nutshelling is a good strategy to try for developing a preliminary thesis, or for testing how different plans can affect what you say in your paper.

  1. Review the results of your other pre-writing activities, with the intention of identifying major ideas, and distinguishing major ideas from minor ideas. Highlight what you think is important.
  2. Imagine you have to tell someone right now what your paper is going to be about. Try describing your paper by saying "I want to say... " or "I want to show... ."
  3. Record your nutshell statement. It should be no more than two or three sentences long.

Example See Examples of "Unconscious" Pre-Writing Strategies

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