One of the biggest problems people have with writing is getting started. A blank page (or computer screen) can be intimidating, but prewriting is a great way to overcome that intimidation. Here are some prewriting activities to help get the words flowing out of your brain and onto the page:
Listing: Listing is one of the easiest things you can do to get the ideas moving. Assuming that you have a topic, just write down the topic and jot down any ideas that come to mind. Don’t judge or censor ideas; just write them down. You can censor later! If you have a large or broad topic, listing can be a good way to break it down into categories or narrow the topic if necessary.
Mapping: For the visually-minded, a concept map or web can be a great way to organize a jumble of ideas into something that makes sense. A concept map helps show relationships between ideas.
Freewriting: Freewriting is one of my favorite ways to get the creative juices flowing. Give yourself a topic and a time limit (5 or 10 minutes usually works) and just write whatever comes into your head. Don’t pay any attention to spelling or grammar–just write. When you’re done, go back and pull out whatever ideas seem most useful. Freewriting is also a great way to get yourself “unstuck” when you’ve already begun but don’t know where to go next.
Prewriting works no matter what kind of writing you’re doing. Just grab a piece of paper and a pen and go!