Learn how to clarify ideas, organize thoughts, and develop a clear direction for your work as a freelance writer. Here’s what to know about prewriting.
Independent writers know delivering quality content is key to meeting clients' expectations. Clean and concise copy is crucial for effective branding and content production. Prewriting techniques are a proven strategy to take your writing to the next level.
Wondering exactly what is prewriting? We’re here to tell you what you need to know, whether you're an experienced scribe or just starting out. This guide to prewriting will help you overcome writer's block, streamline your writing process, and produce higher-quality work, all in less time.
What is prewriting? 🤔
Prewriting is a technique that can help generate and organize ideas before you put pen to paper. It involves brainstorming, outlining, and planning your content, with the goal of clarifying your thoughts and improving the overall quality of your writing. It’s a valuable part of your writing process that can help you become a more productive, efficient, and creative writer. How? By investing time in determining your purpose, analyzing your audience, and organizing your ideas, you’ll be on your way to producing content that stands out and exceeds your clients' expectations.
The perks of prewriting 👍
The prewriting process can take many forms, depending on your personal work habits, style, and the type of content you're writing. Some independent writers prefer to brainstorm their ideas on paper, while others use mind maps or digital tools to create an outline. Regardless of your methods, prewriting can help you:
- Increase productivity: By clarifying your ideas beforehand, you can reduce writer's block, avoid unnecessary revisions, and save time.
- Enhance creativity: Prewriting encourages you to explore new ideas and think beyond obvious ones.
- Improve quality: By structuring your thoughts logically and coherently, you can communicate more effectively with your audience.
- Help tailor content to the audience: By understanding who your audience is, what their interests and concerns are, and what they expect from your content, you can create more engaging deliverables that surprise them and meet their expectations.
6 effective prewriting techniques 🖊️
There are many prewriting strategies and techniques you can use to get the ball rolling. Here are a few to try:
Brainstorming or listing 🧠
Brainstorming involves generating ideas by quickly writing down anything that comes to mind, while listing consists in creating a list of ideas instead of a mind map. Both techniques are useful for generating a large number of ideas fast!
Try writing whatever comes to mind non-stop for a set amount of time, no matter how nonsensical or irrelevant it may seem. The goal here is to explore ideas even if they don't seem to relate to the topic, which often leads to uncovering new ideas and insights.
This technique is all about organizing your thoughts and seeing how ideas connect to each other. By creating a visual representation of your ideas and grouping related concepts, you'll see things with a new perspective and perhaps bring about brand-new concepts.
Creating a structured outline of your writing project's main points and supporting details can expedite the writing process — so you know where you're going before you begin.
The 5 W’s ✋
Employing the five “W” questions (who, what, when, where, and why) helps identify areas that may need more research or explanation, ensuring you’ve covered everything.
Discuss your ideas with a colleague, friend, or family member to gain new insights and perspectives. They may ask you questions you hadn't considered, or challenge your assumptions, leading you to refine and improve your earlier ideas.
Categorizing allows you to compare different points of view by creating a chart to identify significant differences, track your responses, and ensure a balanced analysis of the topic. For example, if you're writing an article about the pros and cons of remote work, you could create a chart that compares the advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting from the perspective of employers and employees. This would ensure that all relevant points of view are covered and that you’ve provided a balanced analysis of the topic before moving forward.
6 tips for a successful prewriting process🏆
To make the most of these prewriting techniques, developing the right habits is key. Here, we'll share some further tips that Independent writers can apply to their prewriting process to boost productivity and creativity.
- Get yourself organized: Before you start prewriting, make sure you have all the materials and resources you need. This could include notes, research, outlines, or anything else to help you get started. Being organized will save time and help avoid distractions.
- Schedule your time: Take frequent breaks during this process to give yourself a chance to develop new ideas. Plan your prewriting process in advance and allocate enough time for it — walks are always great for ideating!
- Set specific goals: To stay focused, define what you want to achieve through prewriting. Ask yourself what you want to communicate to your audience. What is your main message, and what supporting points do you need to make?
- Find the right technique for you: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and find the right combination for you. Every writer (and project) is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Be open to trying new things and iterate as you go. By experimenting and refining your approach, you'll develop a more effective and efficient prewriting process.
- Keep an open mind: Don't judge or censor your ideas during prewriting. Let your creativity flow and write down anything that comes to mind, even if it seems silly or irrelevant. You can always refine your ideas later.
- Review and revise: Review and refine your ideas after prewriting to ensure they align with your writing goals. Revisit your purpose and audience to make sure your ideas are relevant and engaging. Then, refine your ideas by editing, adding, or removing content as needed.
Ready to become a better writer?🥇
No matter the type of content, prewriting helps freelance writers produce better work faster. Prewriting techniques fit into a larger strategy that includes careful scheduling, setting specific goals, and experimenting with different methods — all to help writers improve their productivity, creativity, and organization skills.
Once you’ve mastered your craft, Contra can help you find clients who need your skills. At Contra, you’ll find a supportive community of like-minded writers who are passionate about honing their craft, expanding their skill set, and growing their businesses. Our Independent-first platform lets you connect with other freelance professionals, access valuable resources, promote your services, and get paid commission-free! Head to Contra to get started today.