Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Looping: A Focused Approach to Brainstorming

Adapted from a PSU Writing Center handout by Mariah Bennett-Gillard

If you don’t have time to waste and have to come up with an idea on a specific topic for a writing assignment, try looping. It is a good way for you to manage your time and freewrite without going off topic.

To start looping, find a tentative topic or idea, even if it’s unspecific and broad. Write the topic at the top of the page. Before beginning, check the clock or set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the timer is set, write without stopping until the timer goes off.

Once your time is up, read over what you wrote and determine the best or most important thing. Pick the idea you want to say more about and copy the sentence or phrase on a fresh line. It doesn’t have to be what you wrote the most about. It can be something you like or even something you didn’t quite say, but want to.

Now, do another loop using the sentence or phrase you copied as your prompt. Set the timer again and begin freewriting. Write like you did before while focusing on your chosen title sentence. Stop when the time is up. Read what you wrote. Decide what was best about the writing in this round and use that idea to start your third loop. Repeat the process one more time so that you have three complete loops.

By the time you are finished with the third loop, you may find that you have an idea that you can develop into a larger piece of writing. You may need more than three loops, and that is alright. The important thing is that you have started to write.

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