Northcentral University Writing Center
Getting Started

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Writing Center

Getting Started:

Motivation and Movement


When the writer faces a new writing assignment, nothing is more important than discovering and collecting ideas about the topic. In most cases, the writer may experience the feeling of not knowing what to write about, but that feeling doesn’t necessarily mean the writer doesn’t have something to say. On the contrary, most writers have more to say about a topic that is not consciously known before any writing begins. How does the writer discover and collect these unconscious ideas? By beginning with two important tenets of the NCU Writing Process:


  • Motivation.  What’s so important about Pre-writing? Getting started. The sooner one starts writing to generate ideas on a subject or assignment topic, the sooner one can complete the Pre-writing stages and get started on the first draft of an essay. A journey begins with a destination. Likewise, good writers don’t begin a first draft until ideas have been identified and a main idea has been clarified. When does the writer determine the destination? Today, with Pre-writing techniques of Freewriting, Focused Freewriting, Looping, Brainstorming, Clustering, and Cubing.


  • Movement. Do it quickly. Pre-writing strategies prompt writers to avoid the instinct to produce formal, organized text. How can one write a formal, academic essay before all ideas have been discovered, collected, explored, and organized?  In these early stages of discovery, writing to explore ideas requires the writer to resist the temptation to revise and block fresh ideas and insights about the topic. By moving forward and inviting ideas, the writer may explore all possibilities and potential ideas, discovering one’s own perspective and evaluation of the topic.   


To help writers get started and discover ideas, any of the following techniques should be used to begin any new writing project:


What Works Best: Outlining or Writing?


Focused Freewriting




Clustering - Visual Example