The preparation and planning stage is an essential part of the writing process. If you try to write an essay without first considering your audience, purpose, controlling idea, and argument, the result is typically an essay that seems aimless and full of disconnected sentences. In Unit 9, we will look at how mapping out ideas and structure before writing a first draft gives your essay direction and focus. However, before you can organize, you first need ideas.


To brainstorm means to write down as many ideas as you can, as quickly as you can, without paying attention to the quality of sentences or the completion of a thought. Here are reasons to brainstorm before writing an essay:

  • It helps us discover how we truly feel about the essay topic.
  • It helps us organize our ideas.
  • It can generate new, unexpected ideas.
  • It gives us a large number of points which we can then narrow down in order to use only the strongest.