Getting Started: Deactivating Stagnation in Writing Teaching Translation translation jobs
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Getting Started: Deactivating Stagnation in Writing

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Ismail Baroudy photo Despite a historical event, such as that of a paradigm shift;from product to process, in the domain of the writing pedagogy, student- writers, having been provided with theory and rationale in vogue, are reported to have been found yet debilitated in writing. They still fail to practice the skill of writing as a rewarding process of discovering meaning. To overcome such a traumatic enigma, the approach known as that of process writing urgently needs to be systematically analyzed, described, and even contrastively compared with that of product writing. This essential prerequisite, as it has been reasonably recommended, should indispensably abide by the sequential trilogy of approach, design and procedure. The study here, accordingly, aims at elaborating on the labeled instructional activities specifically allocated for the implementation of process writing. This is categorically embedded within the ‘design’ of the process scheme and the student-writers, if technically informed about its instructive details, will hopefully turn out quite different in their writing endeavors and accomplishments. Student-writers if armed with the conducive clues of a bulk of knowledge as such are optimistically expected to successfully embark on real writing assignments; thus, actualizing the true merits and privileges of a dramatic shift in the writing pedagogy they have willingly and intelligently submitted themselves to.

Keywords: Writing Pedagogy, Paradigm Shift, Process Writing, Instructional Activities, Pre-writing Techniques.


Distinct types of teaching activities are detected to have been worked out to serve as distinguishing factors according to which methods, approaches, as well as designs, whether of product bound culture or process wise nature, can be readily categorized, described and compared. In fact, Richards and Rodgers (2001: 26) assert that:

The objectives of a method, whether defined primarily in terms of product or process, are attained through the instructional process, through the organized and directed interaction of teachers, learners, and materials in the classroom. Differences among methods at the level of approach [and the paradigm as well] manifest themselves in the choice of different kinds of learning and teaching activity in the classroom.

 These activities which are supposed to prospectively get manifested and actualized in classroom performances, due to their sharp tendencies, enjoy some specific, exclusive preferences. Some of them may lay its pressure on communicative activities, which in compliance with the purposes targeted, they endeavor to facilitate the development of notional-functional syllabi. Thus, most willingly, they enthusiastically consider a syllabus intensively entreating activities, which enhances and promotes second language learners’ fluency on interacting and transacting via the target language. Whereas, on the other hand, a class conducted by a different type of a teacher, who intensively focuses on capacitating his/her student-writers to acquire linguistic competency; a linguistic body of knowledge to reside materialized in the left hemisphere of the brain. This body of knowledge, in fact, can be formed when student-writers are granted adequate amount of exposure to comprehensible language. Such a requirement, if fulfilled, a set of finite number of rules can be internalized to help learners potentially generate an infinite number of well-formed grammatical sentences. Teachers, on abiding by product activities, will inevitably find to themselves a kind of a teaching route that mainly capitalises on stipulating the principles of correctness, reducing the possibilities of error-occurrence which can be typically manifested by accuracy activities as a denominator of success in language learning.

The whole case of learning and teaching a second language can be elaborated on specifying the two trends of teaching activities; accuracy and fluency, as two sharply diverse objectives. While fluency oriented activities aim at abiding by psycholinguistic processes inherently undergone in language acquisition, the accuracy wise inclination capitalises on the mastery of particular features of grammar. Differences in activity types in methods or approaches may also involve different arrangement and grouping of learners. Accordingly, product and process approaches to writing are classified by different types of activities and arrangements: thus, student-writers require creating diverse communities of practitioners who are contrastively treated to meet their objectives in the domain of writing.

In case of being involved with commitment in those specific activities, the cumulative experience, admittedly, provides them with mature instructive learning as what type of principles, activities or tasks can be utilised and how much weight is to be assigned to each activity. Besides, the activities rationally selected out for the manifestation of process writing as a specific trend in developing writing abilities are tapped to mainly highlight opportunities enhancing the development of composing skills (planning, drafting, and revising). Obviously, if the objectives are to maintain product-oriented purposes, those that are supposed to be chosen will be quite dissimilar if compared to the former’s priorities. In product based tendency, say, so as to assist the student-writers with their writing objectives, they are granted more chances to perform activities, helping student-writers gain control over the machines of writing.

A process writing course, for instance, may be roughly organized around the instructional activities stated below:

1.   Brainstorming

2.   Quickwriting

3.   Group writing

4.   Peer feedback sessions

5.   Blackboard writing

6.   Free composition activities

7.   Analysis of modes of good writing

Process writing, in fact, requires a different approach to the design of instructional activities. The activities need to fulfill functional requirements and to embrace the different stages observed in the writing process. They may focus on the prewriting/rehearsing/revising phase. To help student-writers develop ideas, generate plans, serve initial stimulus for writing and provide motivation, specific activities such as the ones recommended below can be found effectively helpful.

1.   Journal writing

2.   Brainstorming

3.   Free writing

4.   Focused free writing

5.   Quick writing

6.   List writing

7.   Cubing

8.   Looping

9.   Letter writing

10. Asking questions

11. Inventory

12. Scratch outline

13. Outlining

14. Interviewing

15. Visiting locality

16. Monologues

17. Survey talking

18. Fantasising

19. Oral composition (verbalization)

20. Classical invention

21. Oral reading

22. Silent reading

23. Debating

24. Using mother tongue

25. Drafting

26. Thinking without writing

27. Role playing

28. Analogy

29. Sleeping on a subject

30. Using pictures

In fact, such types of activities prepare student-writers to realistically embark on the task of writing as meaning-making trend. The task of writing and drafting also require specific kind of activities some of which are found as listed below:

1.   Strategic questions

2.   Timed writing

3.   Elaboration exercises

4.   Reduction exercises

5.   Jumbled paragraph

6.   Jumbled essay

7.   Writing topic sentences

8.   Writing thesis sentence

9.   Quickwriting

10. Group drafting

Having the phases of prewriting/criticizing and rehearsing and writing/drafting done, the phase, which entertains revising, emerges. In this, some activities are prioritised to be manifested in writing classrooms, some of which can be mentioned appearing as follows:

1.   Peer feedback

2.   Group-correction

3.   Rewriting exercises

4.   Revising heuristics

5.   Teacher feedback

6.   Check list

Some of the crucial prewriting strategies, which are significantly advantageous in provoking thought, generating information and stimulating background knowledge and facilitating retrieval are elaborately discussed in the following pages:


The prewriting activity called cubing that has been coined by Elbow (1985) is an information gathering technique. It is seriously accounted for to serve as a potent initiative, which can be manipulated in writing classrooms to help the desired objectives blossom via liberating the captivated thoughts. Commonly, a mental block may be the outcome, when some one sits for writing or carrying nothing but a tabula raza to get started. Cubing is the problem-solving technique, which helps thinking about the topic and accumulates a sufficient amount of words on paper. Actually, such a tool can be found utterly practical when a student -writer reaches the point where a subject has already engaged his/her mind, and now he/she is thoroughly prepared to write it down. The subject can be viewed and explored from six conceptual profiles: description, analysis, application, comparison, association and persuasion. The six areas of the cube are considered representing six types of writing assignments. Student-writers are assigned to carry them out tapping the new thought reservoirs. They are required to have the different dimensions of a specific topic adequately explicated. In other words, that specific topic can be responded to form six perspectives. These perspectives can be reviewed by allocating a mini-assignment to be fulfilled; thus, generating new unexpected information according to which the writing task can be rapidly and fluently finalized. Once having those six mini assignments met a persuasive end, the topic will be assessed and discussed from six angular views, quite adequate cumulative data can be piled up to bring about that sure start which has long been awaited for. To elaborate on this, student-writers are granted golden opportunities to experience a practical realization of how the aforementioned technique can be rendered generous enough to generate a bountiful amount of blade-edged information type apt to facilitate the development of the selected topic on writing. A model which has been reproduced by (Spack:1984) is presented here. She offered her aid guidance to the writing-teachers who aim at helping their student-writers exploit most effectively such a prewriting technique. Student-writers for appropriate achievement are advised to conform themselves to the imperative requirements stated below:

1)   Describe it: examine topic or subject closely and tell what you think it is all about. The topic in case of being an abstract one such as cooking can be disregarded whereas the writer should get involved in writing the cubical perspective he/she is pursuing.

2)   Compare the topic or the objects to some others you have come across before, i.e. what is it similar to? different from? Usually a comparison espouses likenesses and differences.

3)   Associate it with something you are familiar with already, i.e. what does it reminds you about? What correlatives can be established with what and whom? In fact, what does it prop in your mind once you hear and read that.

4)   Analyze it: point out what it is made of. Explain how it is manufactured.

5)   Apply it: how is the item mentioned to be used? How can it facilitate the currency of living? What improvements does it bring about? What can be done with it?

6)   Argue for it or against it: give justification for your positive or negative stance. Defend your position giving satisfactory reasons. Be stable in adopting one single position. Support your position by giving various detailed evidences.

Once the six perspectives are industriously and diligently expanded, a lot of ideas and materials will be made ready. Since they are potentially energetic saturated with loaded power, they will certainly generate more ideas and thoughts appropriate to eventually develop into a mature well embodied type of paragraph or essay.

Free writing

Free writing is one of the dependable versatile prewriting techniques which can be invariably used by student-writers to enforce the nucleated dormant thoughts dramatically germinate, prop and plop, sliding smoothly to richly mark the awaiting, impatient blank slice of paper. In handling such a thought-provoking technique, student-writers will be assigned to write furiously, as freely as possible, without deterrence or hesitation. A given pre-set duration of time, say five, eight or ten minutes time is allocated to generate accumulating as much as possible details in the form of structured words that are relevantly assembled on the null sheet. Actually, free writing can be taken to serve as a rescue measure in those serious blocking moments. Tucker and Costello (1985) define free writing as a “non-stop writing” and they add that it can be compared to warming up exercises athletes do before a competition. They address the writers to point out that free writing’s purpose is “to loosen up the muscles of the brain, while encouraging the student-writer to relax and to see that writing is a process that includes many stages”. Some who show deep interest in scribbling on paper urge themselves violently, due to the formal nature of writing, to do it tight right at the outset from the sitting. Student-writers of such category are in fact self-stumbling type of fellows who unconsciously and innocently have their following tendencies checked and suppressed. Student-writers who carry out free writing or warming up exercises are strictly advised to forget caring about being grammatical and accurate. They are also encouraged to ignore insisting on observing the mechanics and providing organization. Occasionally, some student-writers, at the expense of being neat and clean, inhibit themselves with clamours longing for punctuation or getting busy with erasing. Actually, when a student-writer freewrites he/she should strictly overlook correcting, revising or polishing the finished product. Chastain (1988:24) in supporting what superseded asserts that. “the goal of free writing is to write. The writers should entirely concentrate on the creative process. He/she should not even consider criticizing what he/she is saying because criticism hinders the flow of ideas and results in hesitation and blockage to ideas. Free writing stimulates the flow of thought and encourages it to continue uninterrupted”. Accordingly, student-writers are didactically instructed not to plan beforehand, organize neatly, revise or proofread while they are actively busy doing free writing. Surely, student-writers will discover it themselves that, from time to time, they are almost helpless in writing even a few sentences by free writing, and in some other cases, they may come up with just scanty amount of clipped or crippled sentences or even some type of non-sentences. This should not discourage them. It happens at times quite so often. They can merely engage themselves copying uninterrupted in chain the only sentence they have got started with or without reflecting their blocked-bogged condition as practicing resisting writing “I can’t write what I want to have it said” till an opening inlet of hope may leak out emerging unnoticed. Rozenberg (1989) expounds on such case by stating that,

“At first you may find that you write very little in ten minutes. After doing in this exercise for two or three weeks, however, you will be surprised at how easy it is to get started and how much you are able to write. You may also discover that you being to notice more about the world around you… … what if you run dry and can’t think of any thing more to write about? Simply copy your last sentence over and over again until something else comes to your mind. Or if you like, draw a conclusion from what you’ve written or write a one sentence summary- and then more on a new topic. But make sure you keep writing for ten minutes”.

Elbow (1981:13) deplores the time and energy “spent not writing” and states that free writing is the best way to learn. Separating the producing process from the revision process and to continue emphasizing the above mentioned contribution is to be actualised by elaborating that “Free writing is the easiest way to get words on paper”. Thus, one can stimulate the students to commit themselves conforming to simply forcing themselves to write without stopping for a non-stop ten –minute writing assignment.

Journal keeping

One of the most rewarding experiences in case of aiming to be proficient in sports, arts or winning a successful educational career is seen purely due to the constantly and regularly practicing that favourite interest. Having got the exercises continually done once a week does not evolve an unexpected exceptional sort of attitude in a specific skill. Like any other type of skill, writing requires a prolonged ceaseless laborious practice till the required objectives will be utterly accomplished. Most good writers write almost daily. Writing is a daily habit at most good writers. Every successful writer allocates specific quota of time to carry out his/her writing activities; every morning, every afternoon or any time he/she prefers that to be performed. All writers, without exception, do know that nothing can be found easier than remaining paralysed; not writing. Writers should disregard thousands of reasons for not doing or putting off their daily habits of writing. Student-writers should resist those temptations of whatsoever sort they might be. A writer, in the real sense of the word, is some one who is able and does write habitually and frequently.

Accordingly, journal keeping as a prewriting activity which facilitates the generation and preparation of ideas is a very personal activity based on which the student has to be efficiently self disciplinistic. In doing so, the student will truthfully benefit from the chance of rendering his/her thoughts and feelings into linguistic or descriptive mode of aggregated words in the surest, safest way, ever been possible. Practicing writing journal in an unconfined manner enhances the individual’s self concept of writing; and in the act of writing; consequently, it gets demystified. Writing turns out to be a dependable convenient task; simple to be done for the purpose of personal self -expression.

To get regular practice in writing, student-writers can keep a journal for an assigned period of time; say one or two weeks. The time spent on writing journal can be a time for self-examination, reflection, introspection and time to ever remember hereafter. Therefore, student-writers are advised to write for a predetermined minimum amount of time; no more than ten or fifteen minutes during each daily journal-writing session.

Not only keeping a journal is a proper way to get daily practice, it also gives the student-writer the golden opportunity to experience and manipulate specific writing skills. The journal allows the student-writer to describe objects, people, and events from different perspectives, to practice caring for details, to eventually focus. The journal assists the student-writer to realize and discover what he/she really thinks of, some issues or persons.

The journal in fact, can serve as a notebook of the student-writer’s ideas: a source in terms of which a story or an essay can be logically and patiently developed. That’s why the use of notebook, spiral or fly leaf, in which students can write about their experiences both in and out of school or can record responses and reactions to learning and learning activities technically referred to as that of learning logs, journals or learning journals. The use of learning logs by student-writers provides them with an opportunity to reflect and comment on learning, and is usually shared by the teacher on a regular basis without being graded. In this way, the teacher will be enabled to find out if the student in question is making progress in addition to the student-writers gaining additional opportunities to practice the task of writing.

Learning logs can be used in writing-classes to monitor a pre-writing activity and also as a method of motivating students to develop fluency in writing through regularly writing on topics of their own choices. Learning logs, when utilized for the purpose of establishing a dialogue between teacher and student-writer by means of interrogation or commentary, they are referred to as dialogue journal or diaries (Richards, Schmidt, Platt & Schmidt: 2003).

All student-writers have a lot of chances at their disposal to discover about themselves and others, about the world they are encircled by and the ties they cherished through long experience with it. The way to explore their life events is to let it be bounced back open in a wall documented journal. Scribbling about ideas, emotions, problems fantasies, dreams and incidents is the stepping-stone toward understanding them each and developing intelligent self-awareness. Besides, recording in a journal creates a momentum to experiment with stylistic varieties by merely attempting at “voice” and “techniques”.

 In such moments, student-writers can be helped therapeutically to actualize themselves. Such a desire makes writing possible since writing is one of the significant forms of self-actualization. Students themselves first and foremost can be directed “to collect themselves in a journal”. (Rohman, 1965:36). A daily performance of some sort is required from the student-writer without stipulating length restriction.

Good writers who keep on writing journal are in fact persons with real involvement unlike writers with “phony involvement” (Rohman, 1965:37). Journal is said to serve as one of the vital procedures of accessing student-writers with real involvement in their subjects and in themselves. Journal can be exploited to render the writing- task real for students as well as teachers. Teachers can receive great delight in reading those writings done mainly for real purposes.

A journal by whatever names it is chosen to be called: a diary can bountifully grant rewards. Notebooks can start as a simple record of daily activities. Such a record will be naturally developed into a valuable collection of thoughts, feelings and experiences. Student-writers will be engaged in writing anything possible; all the roamings and ramblings of the mental course which eventually will be ended up with the emergence of something quite unexpected. Journal can serve as a vehicle for communicating with self; through writing and reading the daily recorded items. The journal can readily function as a source for paper topics, which frequently supply the student-writers with the sparks of an idea that eventually grows into a well-done mature essay in genre.

Students who have been interviewed in this respect expressed their views in various positive ways. Some of those students were so lucky as they had not had the sweet experience of conveying their thought non-defensively. This was their first time they ever had themselves stated. One of the students quoted in Rohman (1965:37) asserts, “I wrote in my journal for several weeks before I realized that I was doing so for more than just a course. It began to mean something to me. It became more than just a proving ground for my themes…. It became a vital part in my whole life”.

Teachers are advised to seriously assign journal writing due to its nature, which requires little marking. The purpose of journal writing is to allow students to record their thoughts without concentrating on the written form. Most usually, it is found that foreign student-writers are so concerned with surface structure of their writings that they rarely spend time considering the ideas they are writing about. It is also worth mentioning that journals are non-threatening forums in which students can express their ideas with minimum concern about thought and structure. Needless to say, they can serve as a source of ideas that students can appropriately make use of in their later compositions.

The following guidelines are mentioned to sincerely serve the laborious student-writers as well as industrious teachers on endeavouring to accomplish their prospective purposes. They can be observed:

1)   to keep a journal ,a notebook or a loose leaf binder is required.

2)   a list of topics that will stimulate the student-writers to think and explore may be made available to them.

3)   Student-writers are advised to write on regular basis daily in their journals.

4)   Student-writers are instructed to write on varieties of subjects, including feelings, opinions and ideas.

5)   The teachers should determine the frequency of writing to be carried out by the student. Once a day chair writing can be very influential in rapidly developing student-writer’s writing abilities.

6)    Students-writers are advised to be alert to topics for journal writing conversations. Class discussion lectures, daily new reports, book and magazines, even memories and dreams may furnish the essential ideas most necessary for writing.

7)   Student-writers should be encouraged to use material from their journals as a source of ideas for their ongoing writings.

8)   Student-writers should be provided with convenient opportunities to read their daily journals, and teachers should respond with encouraging remarks and possibly with arguments that reinforce or dispute what they have written.

9)   Modes of journal writing can be chosen out of the student-writer’s products to be read for stimulation and valuation. Thus, teachers can encourage them on doing their journal writing constantly and competitively.

10)   Finally, student-writers are strongly advised to review their journal entries at times periodically.

In sum, one of the most advantageous techniques in collecting topics for writing purposes besides keeping account of intellectual and emotional self is to keep in the habit of journal writing as regularly and unceasingly as possible. The adventures of the mind, day by day, can be documented by date and to date, providing a dependable idea and information storage to be retrieved extemporaneously in writing projects. What is heard, seen or done can be included on the journal to display whatever perspective need to be elaborated on by more and more words. Depending on such a crammed day-bag, full of miscellaneous thoughts and ideas, the student-writer will be left with no pretext but every encouraging motive to keep on writing, even about those categorically indexed in the journal itself.

Focused free writing

Focused free writing is a prewriting technique within which the writer is involved in focusing on a particular topic or an idea. The writer's mind due to being engaged in focusing on a specific topic can not wander about freely or almost recklessly, writing down whatever may occur to his/her carefree easy-going uncontrolled pen. In other words, the writer instead of being attached to his/her unstructured thought-flow concentrates on a topic beforehand and then he/she gets involved in writing what plops out of his/her mind about the central idea or the focus. Sometimes such a topic-oriented free writing is popularly known as that of “guided free writing”. (Man and Man, 1990:7) Focused free writing is one of the tools technically used by the student-writer in his/her writing performances across the curriculum. It provides the convenient opportunities required zooming on a specific idea to develop that kind of preparedness that enables him/her to elaborate on the point he/she has in focus in mind. From time to time, it happens that the student-writer digresses, drifting himself far away from the original point and interrupts his/her ideas but should attempt eventually to steer back toward the central focus once more. Focused free writing can be a good way to record initial reactions to a piece of reading or a class discussion. Admittedly, focused free writing can give the student-writer the right chance of writing without worry. Of course, the student-writers who are lucky to have the chance of experiencing with such a type of writing-tool as a free writing exercises report that the technique helped them to diligently get over the state of rigidness and paralysis. They were found quite effective in the time they have been vacantly blocked, being trapped, almost helplessly gaping at a sheet of even unscratched paper. Student-writers are seriously advised to unblock their blocks by implementing such a miraculous prewriting technique in time of realising genuine emergency.


Clustering can be defined as a prewriting technique that enables student-writer to choose an encircled nucleic topic around which whatever may be found in relationship with will be chosen to be jotted down in tree-branch like relationship. The student-writer can select the ones that can be found most crucial or potent enough to develop the topic he/she aims at. Sometimes, clustering can be taken for “inventory taking” (Man & Man 1989:14) but differing slightly from brainstorming. Pica (1986:17) defines clustering as “non-linear brainstorming process that generates ideas, images and feelings around a stimulus word until a pattern becomes discernible”. The whole process of clustering can be reviewed, as such, in terms of Pica (1983:17). The student-writer starts with a circled word or phrase in the middle of a page, perhaps with a topic, a choice of his/her own, a word connected with material being studied by the class. Then, he/she writes words and phrases he/she associates with the first word, circling them, arranging them around the first word and drawing lines showing the connections worked out in his/her mind, like spokes in a wheel. Additional associations may arise with some or all of these new words and are added to the diagram. The writer then can use this clustering in a variety of ways. It can be used as an outline or list of sub-topics he/she wishes to cover as scaffolding that leads him/her to the issue he/she wants to focus on within the larger topic in preparing a cluster diagram. Student-writers are advised to let their thoughts flow freely and record all the ideas that occur within them, circling and connecting the ideas as appropriate items. The student-writer should not pause to evaluate ideas or correct some errors and so on. In case the student-writer runs out of idea, he/she can study the branches of his/her cluster to explore the relationship among the ideas or he/she can doodle a while or trace over what he/she has already written until new ideas surface (Clouse, 2006).


Looping is another interesting variety of prewriting technique that at first looks quite similar to focused free writing. In looping, primarily, the student-writer is strictly required to write freely and rapidly on a specific topic for at least five minutes. In conducting such a type of writing, the student-writer should ignore caring about grammaticality or accuracy. He/she has to pour his/her easy-flowing thought on paper without worrying himself/herself, giving attention to those types of surface matters. After spending the present time duration on authentic free writing, he/she has to read the finished product, underlining what he/she may distinguish or believe to be crucial, significant or necessary to bring about mature development expected to be actualized in that connected segment of writing. The lumpy part underlines whatever a sentence or non-sentence is known as a controlling statement.

After having the controlling statement from first loop concised, it will be jotted down on a separate paper. Another five minutes of free writing will be expended on expanding the new concise type of controlling statement. A second loop will be created to spend a second five minutes time of focus free writing elaborating in reference to the second controlling idea. A third compacted controlling statement can be derived this time and a third five minutes time can be devoted once more for a focused free writing to the third loop form.

Having done with those activities, the writing can be read or reread. As a result, some focused idea that can be used as the subject of an essay will be readily evolved to confidently embark on.

Spack (1984:656) indicates that loop writing is an “invention technique” by the application of which the writer bides by “a non-stop writing in the absence of self-censorship”. Then the writer gets engaged in reading, reflecting and summarizing it up in a single sentence “what has been written”. The student-writer is advised to repeat the above process twice so as to adequately meet the stipulated requirements. He can share the experience with cooperative peers. In fact, it permits student-writers to get to know one another well, facilitating social construction of knowledge (Zahorik & Dichanz, 1994).


One of the most potent techniques instrumentally used to generate as much as unexpected, even far-fetched thoughts, ideas or viewpoints pertaining to student subjects is the thought-provoking technique of brainstorming. Actually, it enables student-writers to embark hopefully and willfully on schematic composing, thus successfully manufacturing fleshy slices of effective writings. Graves (1994) advises to demonstrate to children how events from their everyday lives can become grist for the writing mill. Writing teachers can model this process, he explains, by selecting events from one’s own life that student might find interesting. Additionally, Graves (1994:57) notes writing teachers should help children learn to "listen to themselves." This news may come as a surprise to children who are frequently admonished by adults to "listen to me!”.

This prewriting tool involves thinking or jotting down ideas or viewpoints in the form of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, or any thing else possible flashing in the mind. Student-writers are advised to subject themselves to such thought-provoking prewriting technique without worrying about accuracy, or paying attention to appropriacy or evaluating or analyzing such things as organization, grammar, style, sentence structure, spelling or mechanics or any other instance of linguistic surface matters if confronted with. Having brainstorming properly performed, all associations and interconnections will emerge, facilitating the exploration of inter/intra-relationship, which will eventually lead to the full generation of ideas. Brainstorming is mainly resorted to by writers when they aim at generating ideas, freeing thoughts, unblocking their arrested thinking, breaking mental blocks or opening their minds to some other possible ways of looking at a thing or a phenomenon.

Raimes (1983:10) suggests that “Brainstorming can be done out loud in a class or a group, or individually on a paper”, “even just two or three people bouncing ideas off one another can generate an astonishing amount of material in short time” (Messenger and Taylor 1989:29). The application of brainstorming in a group involves the use of leading questions to stimulate student thinking about a topic or idea that is under focus. The question could be written on the chalkboard and each student should think of providing an answer to that question. Student-writers are usually granted a short period of thinking-time or incubation period to come up with their mediated answers which will be chosen later to extend their answers, reactions and reflections to that specific nominated question. The teacher or a student can write those varieties and other students will be engaged copying which ever may be found more fitting to be used in their compositions or their essays, to be developed later.

The goal of brainstorming can be the making of a list of topics, or data in a set-time period, as well. One person will be elected to put him/her in charge of recording the suggestions on the chalkboard, using short phrases or single words. Attendants announce their viewpoints and all will be recorded without ignoring any one’s contribution, even if it is fund to be a repeated item. So, all proposals without being evaluated or rejected will be included. In fact, such class policy helps the list to eventually grow and the weaker ideas inevitably evolve to better ones. In the end, a long dependable list will be made ready for students to select one or two of the most helpful viewpoints to push them forward more.

Brainstorming as a quite powerful type of popping machine which most of the time the competent or successful writers make the best use of “to start ideas flowing” (Shoemaker 1989:17). Moreover, it can not be ignored that it is a versatile thinking tool which cab be used at any stage of the writing process, as well.

Brainstorming involves thinking of as many ideas as one can without worrying about such things as organization or grammar. The purpose of brainstorming is to help student-writers free their thoughts, breakdown mental block; the feeling one gets when he/she does not know what to write about, opening student’s mind to other possible ways to looking and evaluating things.

To carry out such a fun and game like exercise, the student-writers are advised to relax and let their minds wander, near and far, where possible. This can be realistically manifested alone or in collaboration with the class partners. To reinforce what have been explored and discovered a more focused brainstorming can be administered to narrow down the thoughts generated; thus, accommodating the message that is required for the potential audience to have process and product processed complementing each other. This can be undeniably realized when brainstorming and outlining are processed in complementation. When writing is planned, it will be clear and easy for the reader to understand one system popularly used for planning called outlining. The student-writer can practice combining the freedom of brainstorming with the control of outlining. This can lead to a more mature type of writing.

List writing /scratch outline

To generate thought or accumulate information in reinforce to a subject or a topic, the student-writer can make use of a prewriting technique known as that of making lists. Primarily it can be implemented to have the topics shaped from the subject. It can be summarised as jotting whatever aspect of the subject concerned down below without spending any time in evaluating or criticizing the terms chosen to be even a columnar list. List writing as a prewriting activity is also quite practical in generating the required amount of ideas according to which such topics can be developed. Student-writers should be directed to arrange every thought segment occurring in a columnar manner. Student, here, should avoid extending viewpoints in reference to ideas already generated. Evaluation of the appropriacy of the items however they can be worked out in the essay should differ for the moment. In case emerging, the student-writer runs out of thought he/she can benefit from the situation and decide which items are helpful, and which are relevant to the topic to be expanded into an essay. As a result, the irrelevant items should be deleted and excluded from the prepared list.

Next, from time to time, after having the whole list inspected, student-writers may be witnessed almost confronted with an exigency to add some more related ideas to the list. After having studied the accumulated ideas, an adequate list of relevant thoughts and ideas will be readily in access to be included in the essay. Most student-writers are reported to have been totally satisfied with the act of list writing since their prospective objectives are gradually met. Some other writer takes a step further by planning to come up with a scratch outline. To prepare a scratch outline, the thought items related to each other will be grouped in different smaller lists. The developing policy will be brought to focus on preparing multiple lists out of the first single prototype list. It can be supposed here that a student-writer has already written a list on why his/her grade was the lowest in one of the courses taken. Three of the items in the list may be referred to note-taking, five of them to not having successful learning habits and four of them can be related to the absence of frequency, and six of them is the interrelation to not exercising punctual reading, or doing preparations. In consequence four lists are going to be prepared --- one idea is about poor note taking, one idea is about unsuccessful learning habits, one more idea about the absence of frequency and the last about not being punctual in preparation. If such a procedure is followed, steps further than listing is also done. Besides making a list, the student-writer has brought into his/her scratch outline some kind of organization to the whole task. Of course, such an achievement can help student-writers to even guess how many of the paragraphs in the essay can be developed or what shape the finalizing composition take up to itself.

To conclude, a scratch outline can often be the most helpful single technique for writing a good paper. It is an excellent follow-up activity to the prewriting techniques already mentioned: brainstorming, free writing, and making a list. In a scratch outline the student-writer can think carefully about the exact point he/she is making, about the exact item that he/she wants to support, and above all, the exact order in which he/she wants to arrange those items. The scratch outline is, then, a plan or a blue print that will help student-writers achieve a unified, supported and organized composition.


As a prewriting technique, in the process of utilizing inventory as an effective technique to provide thought and to recall and stimulate thinking, a student-writer is required to recall his/her knowledge, beliefs and feelings about a specific subject for full consideration. When the inventory is realized, information can be recorded to yield and generate new unexpected ideas. Consequently, inventory serves as a means of developing a focus to expand the topic and to expound on its ramifications. Besides, it acts as a rich source of information and ideas: thus, fulfilling the assignment requirements more successfully and penetratively.

Inventory can be handled when both techniques, brainstorming and clustering, are put into practical use. Like cubing, both brainstorming and clustering, assume that the student-writer has already settled down on a topic to start readily with. As it has been assumed with cubing, both brainstorming and clustering anticipate the choice of student-writers cover a general subject by means of which the writing assignment can be readily embarked on.


Writing teachers, on implementing the labeled process prewriting procedures, will create that kind of environment in which student-writers functionally benefit from. Student-writers will eventually realize the true intentions of a shift. They become aware of themselves what to what to quit and what to adapt. They can realize how the process procedures can boost and enhance their development as writers in a meaning-making context. They can convince themselves that dormant thought can be provoked to generate cumulative knowledge based on which a finished product can be successfully accomplished. They in fact genuinely assimilate the idea that writing is a process by means of which one can discover what s/he actually knows. They student-writers accordingly will readily submit themselves on substantially generating dynamic content to the tenet that advocates writing writes.


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