Introduction Getting Started “Writer’s block” is a common problem to many students. This is when ideas for writing do not come very easily. It is easy to get very frustrated when beginning to write. Brainstorming activities can help you get ideas for your essay and help you become less frustrated.
Clustering Clustering Brainstorming Listing Listing Freewriting Freewriting Three Activities
Brainstorming Clustering 1. Start with the main topic of your essay. Write that word in the center of your paper. 2. Write down any sub-topics that are connected to that main topic. Draw arrows to the sub-topics from the main topic. San Francisco Chinatown Fisherman’s Wharf Golden Gate Bridge AlcatrazMuseumsTransportation Clustering Clustering Listing Listing Freewriting
Brainstorming Clustering 3. If you have new ideas, connect those words to the appropriate sub-topic. San Francisco Chinatown Fisherman’ s Wharf Alcatraz Museums Transportatio n Golden Gate Bridge American Legion Modern Art Museum Asian Art Museum Clam Chowder Ships boats Cable CarBusBART Restaurants Stores Theaters Old Military Prison Civilian Prison 1934-1963 Famous Prisoners Completed 1937 Scenic View Clustering Clustering Listing Listing Freewriting
Clustering Example #1 Favorite Room Quiet BedroomBig Closet Comfortable Furniture Windows Sunny View of Sky View of Trees Soft Bed Rocking Chair Yellow Good- Sized Clustering Clustering Listing Listing Freewriting
Clustering Example #2 My Mother Liked Sports Very Religious A Leader Intelligent Hard Worker Housewife Waitress Cleaned Houses Read many books Had many different interests Went to church Taught Sunday School Gave to charity After-School Club Coordinator President of PTA Volleyball Soccer Clustering Clustering Listing Listing Freewriting
Brainstorming Listing 1. Start with the main topic of your essay. Write that word or words at the top of your paper. Why I Want to Become a Nurse Clustering Clustering Listing Listing Freewriting 2. Write down any word or phrase that might relate to your main topic underneath. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Your goal is to write down as many ideas as quickly as possible.
Brainstorming Listing Why I Want to Become a Nurse Like science Like problem solving Many jobs available in nursing Good salary Like working in a hospital Want to help other people Challenging job Opportunities for promotion Interested in study of diseases Interested in study of human body Flexible hours Will always learn something new Clustering Clustering Listing Listing Freewriting
Listing Example #1 How to be a Successful Language Learner Practice speaking with others Take classes Guess at the meanings of words Listen to radio or TV Observe others Set reasonable goals Don’t be afraid to experiment Study vocabulary in related topics Ask others to correct you Look for patterns in your errors Organize your study time Use special techniques to remember new words Ask for help when you don’t understand Review material regularly Use a dictionary Choose a good textbook Clustering Clustering Listing Listing Freewriting
Listing Example #2 Cambodia Major Cities: Battambang, Phnom Penh Angkor Wat Borders Vietnam, Laos, Thailand Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers Once a French colony Tuol Sleng Prison Agriculture: rice, rubber, fish, timber Cambodian writing: originally from India Artful dances Theravada Buddhism King Sihanouk Pol Pot/Khmer Rouge Weather: hot and rainy Minority Groups: Cham, Pear, Brao Land mines Education Clustering Clustering Listing Listing Freewriting
Brainstorming Freewriting 1. Start with the main topic of your essay. Write that word or words at the top of your paper. 2. Freewriting is like talking to yourself on paper. Write as much as you can in connected sentences (not lists) about your topic. Write as quickly as you can without stopping to think about grammar or organization. Clustering Clustering Listing Freewriting Freewriting My Favorite Book
Brainstorming Freewriting My Favorite Book My favorite book… I don’t know where to start. I read so many books that are interesting that it’s hard to choose just one. I guess I could start by talking about the kinds of books I really like. I like biographies and autobiographies the best. I really enjoy reading about another person’s life. One of my favorite books is called Roots by Alex Haley. How the author was able to trace his family history all the way back to Africa was amazing! Another book I really enjoyed was Carl Sandburg’s biography of Abraham Lincoln. What an incredible president! There are also some very interesting books about leaders like Napoleon, Churchill, and Stalin. Well, I guess that gives me a few ideas about where I can start on my topic. Clustering Clustering Listing Freewriting Freewriting
Freewriting Example #1 A Problem I Have I have of course many problems in my life like everybody has, but right now I am feeling new problems like the cultural shock. I got out of my country and came to study in the U.S.A. One of the biggest problems is to make friends, to make or have the good old friends I have back home. It’s so hard here- you don’t know how to act, whether you should ask them their telephone number or wait for them to do it, whether you should call them very often or not. Are they bothered by my language problem? Can they not carry on a conversation with me because they always talk about local or national subjects about which I am not informed? This is really hard and sometimes makes me feel like a stranger in a group where everybody is laughing and talking and they supposedly were my friends. (Spack, R., 1996) Clustering Clustering Listing Freewriting Freewriting
Freewriting Example #2 Things I Brought to the U.S. I have been living in the U.S.A. for about four years. When I cam here, I brought with me a few books, my favorite T-shirts, and a little hand- made pillow from my mother. Among some of the books I brought with me is one called The Little Prince. It is a very interesting book. Every time I read it, I find new and different ideas that I can practice in my life. Some of my favorite T-Shirts are souvenirs from places which I had visited in Colombia where I come from and they remind me of the good times I had. The little handmade pillow from my mother is a small cotton square, with five lines around it and my Christian name on it. Sometimes when I have difficulties in my courses, I look at it asking for help like my mother used to give me when I was living at home. And what I left behind was a happy family life, my good friends, and a pretty city in the north of Colombia near the Atlantic Ocean, where it is always sunny and windy. (Raimes, 1987) Clustering Clustering Listing Freewriting Freewriting
Practice Exercise Now you are ready to practice what you’ve learned. Click on the button to return to Unit A. Print and complete the Practice Exercise.
References PowerPoint Presentation by Ruth Luman: Modesto Junior College. Raimes, A. (1987). Exploring Through Writing: A Process Approach to ESL Composition. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Spack, R. (1996). Guidelines: A Cross-Cultural Reading/Writing Text. New York: St. Martin’s Press. This project incorporates portions of copyrighted works. These items are included under the fair use exemption of the U.S. Copyright Law and have been prepared according to the educational fair use guidelines. They are restricted from further use.