Sometimes when I have something to write, I think I can just sit and words will flow out of my fingers onto my laptop screen. However, I have never actually sat down and typed out a cohesive series of thoughts on the first try. In reality, I need to get away from the laptop screen to brainstorm without technological distraction before I can relax and write something coherent.
When I feel like I simply cannot get a relevant sequence of words onto a page, I get out a piece of paper and write or draw whatever comes to mind for two minutes. This method allows me to write without worrying about structure or cohesion right away and often reveals some key concepts for an outline or a need for further research.
Similarly, if I have to write about a topic that is not particularly interesting to me, I use a colorful piece of paper to hand-write a poem or a fairy tale that involves the key concepts of the topic to see what villains or princesses appear. What can make a topic more interesting than imagining it in an enchanted forest with small woodland friends? This brainstorming technique not only makes me smile, but also yields surprising insights that allow me to think a little more deeply about my topic.
Ditching my laptop early on in my writing process always helps me feel a bit more relaxed and free to spill any thoughts—coherent or otherwise—onto a page. Once I have employed at least one brainstorming technique in this fashion, I usually am able to create a much more cohesive outline and get back onto my laptop to write something meaningful. By using some brainstorming techniques before I write, I allow my mind to wander, think creatively, and consider more angles of a topic than I might have had I just started writing.
Writing Center Tutor
Antioch University New England