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2 Tutorials that teach Brainstorming
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Author: Mackenzie W

Understand the techniques and objectives of brainstorming.

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Video Transcription

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Hi everyone. I'm Mackenzie. And today we're learning about brainstorming. Have you ever wondered how to come up with great ideas? In this tutorial, we'll talk about the definition of the writing process. We'll discuss the definition of brainstorming. We'll learn about different brainstorming strategies, and we'll discuss how to use brainstorming to choose a topic.

We'll begin by discussing the definition of the writing process. The writing process is a set of eight steps that we can follow to help us to develop a piece of writing. The steps are: brainstorming, prewriting, developing a thesis, researching, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. And in this tutorial, we're going to focus on the very first step, brainstorming.

We'll now discuss the definition of brainstorming, the very first step in the writing process. Brainstorming refers to discovering your own thoughts, generating ideas, and mentally exploring a topic. We're trying to come up with ideas to help us to figure out what to write about, what to say in a piece of writing. Brainstorming helps us to find topics that are well suited for a particular piece of writing. We think about the size of the writing, the goals of the writing, the audience of the writing, those are all part of brainstorming to help us figure out the best topic for our writing.

Brainstorming also helps us to reflect on our own writing styles and approaches, such as our habits when we write, our styles, the approaches that we use, the topics that we're most likely to think about using for our own writing. We can use brainstorming to help us to figure out how to start working on a piece of writing.

There are a variety of strategies we can employ when we're engaged in brainstorming to help us to come up with ideas for our own writing. We'll discuss five of them in this tutorial, the first of which is called clustering or mapping. This is when we draw boxes and lines to show connections between ideas. Here's an example.

When I began my brainstorming, maybe I'm feeling rather annoyed, so I decided to jot down the idea what annoys me. And the first thing that jumps into my brain is that society annoys me. So I start to think critically about that and I decide that it's actually mean people that really annoy me. Now, I think about what it is about mean people. Is it child abuse? Is it bullying? Is it impoliteness? Impoliteness seems like an interesting topic because it's related to manners, which I think are important. You can see in this example that I'm starting with a broad idea, and I'm making connections. I'm simply thinking of ideas that relate to other ideas.

Another brainstorming strategy we can use is very similar to clustering or mapping like we just saw. This one is called lists. This is when we make lists of possible ideas. Here's our example.

I'm going to use the same topics as before. But this time, I'm going to write them in a different visual format. Clustering and mapping showed us something very visually. A list is perhaps best suited to someone who is less visual. Again, I have the same topics in the same order, but this time they're being presented differently.

Another strategy we can use during brainstorming is called freewriting. This is when we simply begin writing. We don't think about how good the writing sounds. We don't think about what we're actually saying in the writing. We're just writing ideas that come into our brain. Here's an example of what that might look like.

You'll notice that I'm using the same topics as before, but I'm explaining them differently. I'm writing them out in complete sentences as the thoughts come across my brain. I say that one thing that bugs me is society. There's my idea about society. Society allows people to be mean. There's my idea about mean people. This includes child abuse, bullying, impoliteness. There are some of the other ideas I came up with. Impoliteness happens because people are lacking in proper manners.

So I'm still coming up with some of the same ideas when I brainstorm. I'm just communicating them differently. We can also use the five W's approach to help us to come up with ideas when we're brainstorming. This means that we ask ourselves who, what, when, where, and why to come up with ideas related to a topic. Here's our example.

Again, I'm starting with some of the same ideas things that annoy me, who, mean people in society. What, lack of manners. When, anytime, especially when children are around. This is a new idea that I didn't come up with in my previous three examples of brainstorming. Where, mostly public, but also in nonpublic settings, such as work. Again, here's another new idea that I did not come up with in my previous three examples of brainstorming. And why, because it causes a less civilized society and hurts people's feelings.

This prewriting has helped me to start to develop my topic in more depth. I now have more ideas. Sometimes, we may also be able to use a brainstorming strategy called directive writing. This is when a teacher or someone else gives us a set of questions for us to answer. The answers to those questions serve as our brainstorming. Even if you don't have someone providing you questions for you to answer, you can still use directive writing by coming up with your own questions. Here is an example.

Based on the same topics as my previous brainstorming strategies, I have the question what is something that annoys or bothers you? Why does it annoy or bother you? What would fix the problem or make it less annoying? Because I've decided that my topic is something that annoys me, if I asked myself a few specific questions about the nature of annoying things, I can come up with more ideas about my topic that I've started to develop through brainstorming.

These are just a few brainstorming strategies that you can use to help you to come up with ideas for your writing. Keep in mind that there may be one strategy that fits your thinking process best. You have to try out a few and figure out which one works best for you. Sometimes if you have writer's block, or you're just not sure of what ideas to come up with, trying a new brainstorming strategy can help you as well.

Once we have completed some brainstorming, we can use the work that we did when we were brainstorming to come up with a topic for our writing project. The brainstorming helps us to focus on a general idea to use for the writing. That's the topic of the writing. It's not the thesis, which is one specific statement or argument that we use throughout the writing. That's a more specific idea that we'll have to develop after we choose our topic.

Here's an example of how I would use the clustering strategy to select a topic. When I was using the brainstorming strategy of clustering, here are the ideas that I came up with. I started with something very specific, the idea, what annoys me, and then I worked my way through more specific ideas, society, mean people, impoliteness. Perhaps I decide that out of all of these ideas, impolitenesses is a topic that I think I can work with. It suits the purpose of my writing. It suits my audience. It suits my own context, interests, backgrounds, and I feel like I have things to say about this topic. In this way, brainstorming can help us to eventually choose a specific topic for our writing project.

In this tutorial, we learned about the definition of the writing process. We discussed the definition of brainstorming. We talked about different brainstorming strategies, and we learned how to use brainstorming to come up with a topic for writing. Brainstorming helps you to come up with great ideas. I'm Mackenzie. Thanks for listening.

Terms to Know

Using a variety of techniques to generate ideas and/or clarify thinking.


The overarching focus of an essay or other piece of writing.