Do you experience a shortage of writing ideas or have too many? Do you feel that you can’t write anything useful about the topic? Getting started on any paper can be a real challenge. However, instead of worrying and wondering, you can use brainstorming methods for organizing your thoughts and finding new approaches to the issue.

We have prepared the most effective techniques to help you start writing a paper and overcome the possible challenges throughout the process. Deepen your understanding of the topic with the following proven brainstorming strategies!

Infographic: Brainstorm Strategies to Write a Paper


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Important Tips Before You Start

Keep in mind the main rules of brainstorming:

  • Enumerate, don’t evaluate. All you need to do is to get the ideas down, don’t structure or judge them.
  • You don’t need to start at the beginning or complete one thing before moving to another.
    Give yourself a two-hour block of time to focus on your primary idea. Make sure that nothing interrupts you.
  • Brainstorm according to a case. When you’ve got nothing, brainstorming helps to find inspiration if you’re too tired or keep staring at a blank sheet of paper. When you’ve got too much, brainstorming gives you concrete schemas and structures mental chaos.
  • Powerful Brainstorming Methods

    1. Freewriting

    You need to write, just write. Don’t stop in order to check the spelling or grammar, never go back to rewrite something, just continue writing flawlessly. Have a quantitative goal, for example, 1000 words, 30 minutes, 5 pages, and do not pause to strive for coherence or perfection.

    2. Note Taking

    This is probably the easiest of all types. You need to take notes every time you see or read some relevant information concerning your topic. A good idea is to gather facts from different sources and write them on separate sheets of paper.

    3. Cubing

    In this strategy, the topic is studied from six different points of view. You need to describe the topic, compare it, associate it with something, analyze it, apply it, and argue for or against it. This is a great critical-thinking exercise that will help you develop your thoughts.

    4. Listing

    Write down phrases and single words you will return to a bit later. For bibliographies, scientific, historical or technical papers, you can specify facts, arguments, questions, or components. For fictional stories and essays, your list may consist of people, places, values, qualities, goals, obstacles. You may use any combination of the above.

    5. Researching

    You know the topic you want to write about but don’t have enough ideas? Then this strategy is for you. To conduct a research, you need to visit a library or search through the web. When you find some interesting issues, write them down in a list or map form. This way, you are more likely to find the key point relevant to your particular topic.

    6. Consider Audience and Purpose

    What is your purpose? Are you trying to convince, inform or describe? Each purpose will lead you to a different material you can include in your draft. You also need to consider your audience. Think about what your readers need to know, what they already know, what they would love to find out.

    7. Three Perspectives

    Use 3 perspectives to develop your topic:

    Describe – Describe your topic in detail: its components, distinguishing features, interesting facts, etc.
    Trace – Write about the significant events, history, or something important that influenced your subject.
    Map – What is your topic related to? What does it influence? How has your topic been described by others?

    8. Similes

    In this technique, you need to complete the following sentence:
    ____________is/are/was/were/like_____________ . In the first blank, you need to mention the main idea your paper centers on. Then brainstorm as many words as possible to fill in the second blank. When you have produced a list of options, look over your ideas to find associations.

    9. Using Charts or Shapes

    If you are more visually inclined, use this brainstorming strategy. Tables, charts and shapes will help you explore an idea. Choose words that are central to your topic and use different ways to arrange them spatially. The core thing here is to determine how various spatial representations may help you see the relationships between your ideas.

    10. Mapping

    Also known as webbing and clustering, a mapping is a form of listing that involves the process of writing down the ideas and then making connections between them by associating similar ideas.

    11. Looping

    The point of looping is to get through several freewriting pieces you have compiled before. Read what you have produced in all looping cycles and choose the most interesting ideas and sentences. You will probably discover a great theme you think about unconsciously.

    12. Nut-Shelling

    This strategy will help you distinguish between major and minor ideas in your head. Pretend you are being interviewed by someone who wants to find out what you’re writing about. Start your explanation with the words “I want to write about…” Make sure that your answers are no more than 3 sentences.

    13. Journalistic 5W’s and 1H

    Ask 5W’s and 1H questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? to generate the topic ideas, different angles and interesting approaches. Answer all these questions in brief and review your answers. This way, you will discover what you know about your topic and what areas should be more researched.

    14. Relationship Between the Parts

    In this technique, write several headings that relate to your topic. Specify your main ideas below each one. Try to make as many levels as you can. Then look at different parts that make up your whole concept. What conclusions can you make according to the patterns, or lack of patterns, you’ve got?

    What to Determine While Brainstorming

    When brainstorming for your paper plot, it is important to determine the following things:

  • Paper Type – Are you going to write an argumentative or persuasive essay? A research paper or a dissertation?
  • Narration Type – What type of narration are you going to use: first person/ second person/ limited third person/ omniscient author/ observer-narrator?
  • General Topic – What is your paper about? Why is it important? What’s your unique angle?
  • Style – Do you need to write a paper in MLA or APA style? Define the writing format and follow its distinguishing features.
  • Theme – What is the primary message you want to convey in your paper? Think about related ideas and contradictions.
  • Conclusions – What is your final word? Why should your paper and research matter to the readers?
  • If one of these strategies doesn’t work, move on to another. Usually, it is a combination of the brainstorming strategies that produces the most outstanding results.

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