For my essay I started with the prompt “what was your reaction to this text?”.
I was surprised. “Why were you surprised? How did the author make you feel this?”
So I drew a brainstorm web thing in class. I wrote an opening paragraph during the free write and thought it was actually usable. I drew a big sloppy circle over three of the main points in my web, the ones that had the potential to yield the most material and be the most engaging to talk about. Then I sat and thought about my points, the story as a whole, and the prompt for a while. You could say that for this essay I did more pre-writing than I usually do for papers during our activities in class.
I’ve never thought about the process I go through when I write papers, really. It probably varies. Most of it is thinking. Occasionally I have a good thought and I scramble to write it down quickly before it disappears. You’d be very perplexed at how tenuous a grasp I have on these thoughts before they slip away. Maybe I have short term memory loss.
If I get the thought(s) down, I’ll work on editing them into coherent and presentable sentences. Usually these sentences are randomly placed, typed wherever my cursor landed at the time, so I hunt for the right place to put them and build more sentences around them.
That’s where I am right now- I think I have the key ideas, I just need to put meat on the bones. I will say though, that having your main points down and ready in an outline makes it easier to write the paper in the long run. But oftentimes getting to that point where you have your main points down takes a lot of thinking and writing. So, how you reconcile and balance that idea of pre-structured organization with the idea of free, unstructured writing sessions is a bit of an unknown at this point.