Every college student thinks a little differently, and you have to accommodate for your style of thinking when it comes to brainstorming for your college essays. There are tons of different methods that you can follow for this, and you won’t know what truly works best for you until you start testing out different processes. I’m the type of person that just sits down at the computer and starts to write. Following a chart of some sort just doesn’t work for me. You may work in a totally different way though, so you simply have to search for the brainstorming that works best for you. Listed below are some options you can keep in mind for your next essay.
Perhaps the easiest way to brainstorm for an essay is to make an outline of all the topics you want to discuss within it. The reason why outlining works so well is because it allows you to fully organize your thoughts so you can make your essay flow efficiently. I will usually outline posts like this that have a bunch of subheadings because it helps me plan out the length and overall content of my article.
You don’t have to worry about the formal outline process, where you use Roman numerals and all that jazz. Just make a list of ideas that you can clearly decipher. You can bullet your subtopics or indent them so you don’t get your main points confused with your supporting arguments. You’ll just have to find the process that works best for you.
These can be somewhat high-school-ish (yes I made that up), but you may find Venn diagrams beneficial for a comparison essay. Simply make two circles that overlap one another. Then label one with one object and the other with another object. Put the similarities between the two in the overlapping part, and put the differences in each object’s respective circle. This may at least help you see which points and counter points you have to work with in the essay.
Side note – ever heard of Bo Burnham? He’s a young comedian that totally cracks me up, and there’s a line in one of his songs that talks about a woman pushing her breasts together like a “titty Venn diagram.” Just thought about that and figured I’d share in the giggles.
Webbing involves writing down a topic and then branching into subtopics that relate to it. Then you can branch the subtopics, and eventually you should end up with a web of topics to use for your essay. Anything that is linked together can be used in a paragraph, so you might be able to come up with your points and counter points from this process. My webs always look like really sloppy connect-the-dots gone wrong, but we’ll hope that yours look a little better.
Ah, my favorite – freewriting. This process involves simply taking a pencil and writing out your thoughts at that point in time. You can do the same by typing on the computer, which is what I usually do. I find that this creates a better flow to my writing because I can just connect points naturally with one another as I write. Then again, I write 10,000 words or more every single day for my career. I’m not exactly “normal” when it comes to this area of expertise.
You have to figure out a form of brainstorming that works for you. If you want to brainstorm by pulling out letters from alphabet cereal and coming up with descriptive words that start with them, so be it. All that matters is the end result.