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Prewriting is the process by which writers find and build on their ideas, and plan and structure how to present them to readers. It may include research, taking notes, talking to others, brainstorming, outlining and gathering information.

Understand your Writing Purpose - When you sit down to write something, you need to understand—in a very specific way—what your purpose is. Deciding on your purpose helps you figure out what to say and how to say it. What exactly are you hoping to accomplish with this piece of writing? Is it to convince someone of something? Inform or Entertain? 

Understand your Reader - Every time you write (unless it’s in a journal) you’re writing for an audience, which means you are directing your writing to specific readers. 

To do this, you want to consider: 

  • What information to give your readers?
  • What is the reader’s attitude? Friendly? Defensive? This can help you anticipate any potential questions they may have. Think about how to best serve the reader’s needs.

Brainstorming is the process of coming up with possible content and putting it down in one place for use when you actually start to write. One way to do this is to try to come up with as many ideas as possible without editing or censoring yourself. Timed freewriting is a good way to do this. Once you’ve brainstormed, try going back and seeing if any ideas overlap and can be combined.