Brainstorming is a helpful way to generate ideas at any stage of the process, whether you're trying to come up with a general topic before you begin your research, narrowing your focus, or deciding what support to use for a certain paragraph.
Below are some strategies for brainstorming.
A conversation is often the best way to get ideas flowing. Bring up a topic or two that you're considering. What opinions do other people have about the topic? What would they want to learn about it?
(P.S. You can schedule an appointment at the Writers' Center specifically to have a conversation about your ideas--or lack of ideas!)
To come up with a topic, brainstorm by asking yourself questions like these:
Once you have a topic, try some of these questions to find a more specific direction within your topic:
Get comfortable, set a timer for a couple minutes if you want, and just start writing whatever comes to mind about your topic. You could make a list or write in sentences or fragments. Most important, DO NOT EDIT yourself or pause for too long.
Start with your general topic or argument and branch out from it into every sub-topic you can think of. This mapping method will help you organize your points once you start writing your draft.
Under "Helpful Links," you'll find some online tools for mapping and other methods of brainstorming.