Consultant’s Corner, Vol. 33 Issue 2


Writing Support Studio

Dear Writing Support Studio,

I am reaching out because I struggle to format my ideas while using an organizational pattern.  Though I am able to express my ideas and make many statements which pertain to the prompt of the essay throughout my body of writing, I feel as though my arguments would be far stronger if I were able to develop each individual idea more fully.  I tend to include several topics in one paragraph, whether I am aware of the fact that I am doing this or not.  How might I best be able to halt the tendency of my thoughts to wander on paper?
Thank you,
A Thoughtful Student

Dear Thoughtful Student,

Perhaps the most effective means of countering this tendency to include too much information will take place during the prewriting stages.  In fact, it is arguable that the prewriting phase of the development of an essay, rather than the drafting phase, is where the most time is ideally spent.  Upon conducting initial background research on a topic in order to come to an understanding of the topic, freewriting in conjunction with different brainstorming techniques provides the means by which a writer is able to group ideas according to how they should best appear in their essay.
There are several ways to build the foundation of an essay.  However, an informed freewriting session in which the writer sets aside any preconceived notions about the quality of their writing is sowing the seeds from which idea development can be reaped.  If one has briefly researched the topic on which they are to write, then a focused freewriting session of even just ten minutes is often very effective in terms of putting ideas about the topic on paper.  The objective of this is to write as many thoughts down as possible, so long as they are in some way pertinent to the prompt, during the duration of this time.  There is no room for any concern about organizational form during this time.  There is no room for any judgments.  Ideas are not to be wrestled with during this activity; they are to be embraced.
After having completed the freewriting stage, an individual is ready to begin to organize and develop what they find to be useful from the endeavor.  Different brainstorming techniques are more effective for different types of learners.  If a writer tends to think on a point-by-point basis, then lists and outlines can be an effective way to develop their thoughts.  If a writer tends to connect ideas more strongly through visual techniques, then an idea map is always a fantastic option.  These brainstorming techniques allow a writer to identify the function that each individual idea will serve within their paper whether it is a statement, an illustration of a point, or an explanation on the relevance of that illustration.  For a more elaborate discussion on brainstorming techniques and the organization of ideas within a work, please visit us during our regularly scheduled Fall 2019 hours.
Best Wishes,
The Writing Support Studio