"Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. "
- Gene Fowler (1890-1960)
Do you already have a paper due or is one looming in the future? Don't know where to start? Here are some ideas for gathering thoughts after you have done the necessary reading and/or research.
Brainstorm for ideas.
Take ten minutes and write down every thought that you have on the subject. Just let the ideas flow. Some of them might be off-the-wall, but often even these will lead you in a direction that you might not have expected. Don't censor your thoughts at this stage; just generate ideas.
Now, look at your writing and determine the "golden thread." What main idea kept surfacing? What do most of these random thoughts have in common? Develop this main idea into a working thesis statement. Remember your thesis statement should come early in your paper. A thesis statement gives the central idea of the paper-what this paper going to "prove"; what is your opinion on this subject.
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what you want to accomplish in this paper, look back over your brainstorming ideas, set aside all the unrelated ones, and make a list of all those that are relevant. You now have the beginning of an outline for your paper.
Carefully look over your outline draft. Do ideas need to be rearranged? Do you need to fill in some holes? Revise your outline.