‘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.
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.
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
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!