Can Prewriting Really Improve Your Writing? | Writer’s Relief

Feb 21, 2024 | Writing Tips

Can Prewriting Really Improve Your Writing? | Writer’s Relief

Whether it’s brewing a pot of strong coffee, hanging a “keep out” sign on the door, going for a walk in the park, or donning a favorite cardigan, we all have rituals that help kickstart our writing process. While these are all great ways to get yourself into a writing mindset, the experts at Writer’s Relief know an effective writing strategy that can help you generate new ideas and narrow your focus. Here’s how prewriting can improve your writing overall.

Using Prewriting To Improve Your Writing

As the name suggests, prewriting happens before you begin the first draft of your short story, essay, poem, novel, or memoir. Prewriting is a brainstorming technique that helps you develop topics and organize your thoughts—and it doesn’t necessarily involve any writing! Once you’ve completed the prewriting phase, you’ll be better prepared to start putting words on paper (or onto your computer screen).

Freewrite. With this stream-of-consciousness prewriting technique, you simply write what comes to mind, letting thoughts flow with the editorial side of your brain turned off. Set a time limit and write quickly, don’t edit, and don’t stop until time’s up. You’ll be surprised at how easily freewriting can release spontaneous ideas and inspiration.

After you’ve been freewriting for a bit, you may notice a theme, element, or topic that keeps popping up. You can then try Looping and use this recurring topic, idea, phrase, or sentence as a jumping-off point for a second round of freewriting.

Story Map. Before you begin writing, it can be helpful to have an idea of where you’re planning to go with your story or novel. Use a story map to lay out your idea by starting with the title, then branch off into the various themes, scenes, settings, and plot devices. You may deviate from this map as your work progresses, but it can help you determine if you should stick to your original plan or veer off in a new direction.

Preliminary Outline. An outline can help you organize your thoughts. You can make a bulleted list, a flow chart, or just jot things down—whatever works best for you. With everything in one place, you’ll be able to see any gaps and pinpoint what needs improvement. A decision tree can then guide you through possible outcomes for your characters.

The 5 Ws. Use the questions Who, What, Where, When, and Why to explore the topic you’re considering. Who is this about? What happens? Where does it take place? When in time is this story or poetic moment? Why do you or the characters care or take action? The answers will show you how to frame your poem, short story, essay, novel, or memoir.

These prewriting tips and techniques will help you decide if an idea has promise or if it’s a dead end. Instead of wasting time on something that eventually won’t pan out, you can use your precious writing time to focus on work that has actual potential.

After prewriting comes writing (and all the edits, proofreading, and rewrites that come with it), then post-writing—the time when you make your submissions in hopes of getting your work published! That’s where we come in: The research experts at Writer’s Relief can help boost your odds of getting a request from a literary agent or an acceptance from a journal editor. Learn more about our unique service and submit your writing sample to our Review Board today!

Whether you want to take the traditional publishing route or are thinking about self-publishing, Writer’s Relief can help. Give us a call, and we will point you in the right direction!

Question: Which prewriting technique will you try first?