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Writing Center

Prewriting

Prewriting is a common term for the thinking and research that has to occur before a writer can start organizing ideas or writing a draft. Some of this thinking might occur “in the back of your mind” while you’re at work, in another class, or maybe even while you’re falling asleep at night. Other prewriting, however, might include doing specific activities to research your topic or generate ideas.

It’s easy to get stuck during the prewriting phase of a project, but there are a lot of things you can do to get yourself thinking again.

Most important, you can’t skip this step. Everything you write needs ideas. The question is—are you going to try to come up with them while you are also trying to organize and draft? Or are you going to think things through first and then figure out a way to present what you come up with?

The following stages of prewriting will help you to expand your writing process, and go into the organizing and drafting steps with your best ideas. Each step has more links for deeper investigation.