The Art of ‘Brain Dumping’ – a starting point for effective writing


‘Writer’s block is something that happens while you’re actually writing, right?’ Wrong!

We’ve all faced the challenge of getting stuck writing before we actually start writing! The actual task of focussing and deciding where to actually start is sometimes a challenge in itself. A simple solution to this is to perform what is known as a ‘brain dump’.

In this post we’ll briefly take about what it is, how to do it and how exactly it can help you with starting writing whether it’s an essay, proposal or dissertation you need to get started on.

What is it?

A ‘brain dump’ or ‘brain dumping’ is the simple method of clearing out the clutter in your mind by writing out all your thoughts onto paper. One reason why it’s very hard to start writing is we don’t have a clear idea of what to or how to do it because of the overload of thoughts that clutter our minds.

A ‘brain dump’ will allow you to empty out these spiralling thoughts in order to organise them logically and pick a starting point for the task you have at hand. Think of it as simply pouring out your mind onto a plain sheet of paper so you can see your thoughts one by one.


How do you do it?

There is no magic trick to this. You simply get a plain piece of paper – preferably A4 size, and write the topic of focus. This could be the title of your essay or the task you’re going to do, i.e: my proposal, my dissertation, my thesis.

Once you’ve written the topic of focus, begin to freely write all the connected thoughts that rush to your mind. The key here is to allow the ideas to flow, uninterrupted. You should write down everything connected to the topic that comes to your mind.

Style

There are several ways to write out your thoughts. You can simply:

  • list them: one after the other, thought after thought;
  • create thought bubbles: each thought contained in its own capsule;
  • make a spider diagram: write the topic at the centre of the page and work your way from the centre outwards by writing thoughts connected to the topic;
  • make a mind map: start from the topic and list your thoughts as they branch out, taking each thought in a separate direction so you have branches of similar, connected thoughts
  • create a flow chart: start with the topic at the stop of the page followed by your thoughts in the order they appear, use arrows to connect the order


What are the benefits?

Besides the obvious benefit of helping you avoid serious procrastination by getting started on writing, a brain dump will help you:

  • clear you mind of clutter and focus on the task at hand;
  • visualise your ideas in order to help you organise them;
  • prepare a plan for the writing task at hand;
  • create a timetable or make a realistic to-do list;
  • work out what resources you need i.e.: books, articles, journals, websites or equipment such as stationery supplies

I hope you’ve found this post helpful in getting started on writing by planning and organising your thoughts. I will be posting new content on effective writing strategies, so make sure you sign up to my mailing list for instant notification on more study and academic writing tips.

Happy brain dumping!

~Nafisa

An-Easy-Guide-To-Writing-Essays by Nafisa Ahmedi
Buy now – ‘An Easy Guide To Writing Essays’ by Nafisa Ahmedi available on Amazon.com

5 Tips for a More Productive Ramadan


Happy 1st of June! As we are already into the 6th day of the Islamic holy month of fasting; Ramadan, I’d like to wish you all a Ramadan Kareem and share some productivity tips for work and study during this busy, significant month.

During Ramadan, Muslims are required to observe daily fasting from the hours of sunrise to sunset for the entire holy month. During this time of year, many people are studying for and sitting exams which may seem quite a challenge considering no food or drink can be consumed during the daylight hours. However, as someone who has studied for many, many exams and worked a full time job during long days in the summer months of Ramadan, I can attest how Ramadan can actually increase productivity for work, study and even business. Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Create a timetable for the entire month

Ramadan is very clear on what activities you can and can’t do during the day and night. Creating a timetable so you know what time to have a suhoor (pre-fast snack/meal), times to pray the daily 5 prayers, when to prepare for Iftar (meal for breaking the fast) will allow you to manage your time easily and allocate the time you need for work or study tasks during the day and/or after breaking your fast.

2. Stay hydrated

Even though you can’t drink during daylight hours of fasting, it’s very important to start breaking your fast with water and ensure you keep a steady intake of fluids after breaking fast. Avoid caffeinated drinks and opt for water and natural fruit juices that can boost your energy levels, especially during suhoor time.

3. Don’t stay awake the entire night

It’s easy to get carried away with the festive Ramadan nights but when you have to work and/or study, your priority is to sleep as early as you can so you can get up early too. The night is for sleeping and no matter how much sleep you may think you can get during the day, it’s not and never will amount to the quality of sleep your body gets during the night. It’s better to sleep after Isha prayers and wake up half an hour before Fajr for Suhoor and Tahajjud (night prayers).

4. Avoid going back to sleep after Fajr prayer

Fajr is the first and earliest of the 5 obligatory daily prayers. My ideal is to wake up around 30 mins before Fajr (the first of the 5 obligatory prayers) for Tahajjud. After prayer Fajr you will naturally feel vibrant and alert. Sont go back to bed after praying Fajr because starting your day as early as possible is no doubt one of the fundamental keys to success and an early start also helps keep your energy levels in balance throughout the day.

5. Be consistent through the entire month

Keeping a good daily routine requires a high level of consistency because once you loose focus and start doing too many things out of the order of your normal schedule more than once, your daily routine looses it’s structure and no longer becomes a routine. This is likely to mean less productivity and more procrastination for you.  sometimes consistency can be a difficult thing to get used to if you’ve been accustomed to an unstructured daily life. However, once you’ve put in place a structured routine (i.e.: by creating a Ramadan timetable) that is suited to your personal objectives and goals,  you’ll find it more beneficial than a burden. You are also far more likely to continue these productive habits even after the holy month of Ramadan.

It’s very important to remember Ramadan is a month that encourages productivity not laziness. Even though Muslims are required to abstain from eating and drinking during the day, it is not means for sleeping as a replacement for eating until the time to break fast. Many students are observing the fast alongside preparations and sitting exams this June so understanding that a good work balance between night and day, using time effectively and wisely and being consistent in your daily routine are some basic keys to leading a successful, productive and fulfilling life, both spiritually and materially as well as achieving success during exam periods and after.
I hope you’ve found my 5 tips helpful and I wish you a productive and successful Ramadan.

Ramadan Kareem,

~ Nafisa