So you have a project that has been assigned and you don’t know where to start. The first thing you must do to produce good research is come up with an idea, and a focus for that idea. There are many techniques for doing this. You could make a mind map, free associate like in the writing prompts, make a list, or more.
To start, come up with a topic. If the topic has already been assigned to you, start with that topic. For the sake of learning, imagine you’ve been assigned to write on presidential elections. If you are making a mind-map, you will write “Presidential Elections” in the center of a piece of paper and circle it. Then, you will write down the first word that comes to mind. Circle the new word or phrase, and draw a line linking it back to the original term. You can now branch off from the new term, or create a new branch from the original term.
If you choose to use the list method, you will simply list everything that comes to your mind underneath the initial terms. In our example, you would write “presidential elections” at the top of the page. Then you would write, underneath it, the next thing that comes to mind.
A third method, free-writing, has you write the term down at the top of the paper. Next you will write whatever comes to mind in complete sentences. Free-writing rules are like the rules for the writing prompts. You will set a timer (in fact, you should set a timer for all brainstorming methods), continue to write for the duration of the free-write, avoid crossing anything out, and avoid picking the pencil up. This can be a helpful way of figuring out what your thesis statement should be.
A final method of brainstorming involves writing down questions about your topic. Avoid answering the questions. At the end of the brainstorming session, find which questions seem the most tempting to answer and formulate your topic from there.
What methods do you use for brainstorming?