Freewriting is a prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. While there is no set strategy for freewriting, basic steps include:
- Give yourself a time limit. Write for one or ten or twenty minutes, and then stop.
- Keep your hand moving until the time is up. Do not pause to stare into space or to read what you've written. Write quickly but not in a hurry.
- Pay no attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, neatness, or style. Nobody else needs to read what you produce here. The correctness and quality of what you write do not matter; the act of writing does.
- If you get off the topic or run out of ideas, keep writing anyway. If necessary, write nonsense or whatever comes into your head, or simply scribble: anything to keep the hand moving.
- If you feel bored or uncomfortable as you're writing, ask yourself what's bothering you and write about that. Sometimes your creative energy is like water in a kinked hose, and before thoughts can flow on the topic at hand, you have to straighten the hose by attending to whatever is preoccupying you.
- When the time is up, look over what you've written, and mark passages that contain ideas or phrases that might be worth keeping or elaborating on in a subsequent free-writing session.
From Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within" (2005).
See what Stephen Colbert has to say about Wikipedia.
Mobile Note Taking Tools
Sources to Help you Pick a Topic
Find lists of possible topics in the following databases:
- eLibrary (ProQuest) - Click Topics
- CQ Researcher - Click Browse Topics to view the topics covered by the database which might make good research topics and select one you’re interested in.
If you are off-campus you will need to use your 14 digit Library Card number, which can be found on your ID Card or in SOLAR.
You can also:
- Browse news headlines on the internet to get ideas.
- Write about your own interests or hobbies.
- Choose a topic related to your job or career.
Research notecards can be useful in keeping track of information that you want to use in your essay. They can be helpful in organizing your paper as well.
There are many different notecard formats, so if your instructor requires you to use notecards, be sure to check and see what information he or she is asking you to provide.
Below are two examples of how a research notecard can be formatted. Unless your instructor has specific requirements, research notecards can be adjusted to best suit your learning style.
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[-] Is the author identified?
The author may be a person, group of people, or an organization. Beware of articles marked "Anonymous". On most websites, author information is found on the top or bottom of the page. If you cannot find author information anywhere, you should not cite this source. Reputable publishers choose the authors they work with carefully so the books and articles you find in library databases are likely to have appropriate credentials.
[-] What are the author's qualifications?
Usually an author's affiliation is given with articles you find in the databases. If the author of a Web page has provided an “About” page, this can be an excellent source of information about him or her. If the author is associated with an organization, such as a college or business, you can check that organization's website for information on the author.
[-] Is the page free of advertisements?
Ads on a page usually mean that the author of that page is interested in something other than simply presenting information. You should always be cautious in using information from such pages.
[-] Is the information free of unreasonable bias?
A good source will not let bias affect the information contained within it. If you can detect a strong leaning, whether political, religious, or otherwise, you should avoid that source.
[-] Is the information presented without motives or an agenda?
The best information allows you as the reader to come to your own conclusions; if you see that the author is trying to convince you of something, and especially if you can spot gaps or misinformation in what is presented, you should avoid using that source.
[-] Can you confirm the information in other sources?
One of the best ways to check if information is correct is if you can find that same information in other, completely separate sources.
[-] Does the author include a reference list or bibliography?
Good scholarship can be identified by “Works Cited” or “Bibliography” sections.
[-] Is the article long enough?
Long is a relative term, but generally speaking, less than 5 pages (articles) or 3 screens (webpages) is too short to present most high-quality information.
[-] Is the article mostly text, or are there a lot of images?
Scholarly work rarely relies on images to present information, outside of simple graphs and charts. Photographs usually indicate popular, rather than academic work.