Image taken from: http://users.moscow.com/rickf/images/writingprocess.gif


Yesterday, I began a series of posts on the writing process and the Traits of good writing. I’ll spending the remainder of the week exploring each phase of the process and the Traits that are embedded within it. Today’s topic? Prewriting.

Prewriting is all about idea-gathering, and as we idea-gather, we’re often inspired to do some great pre-writing. This phase of the writer’s process is about considering what you want to say, who may want to hear it, and which mode of writing might best accomplish all of that.

On Saturday, I spent the afternoon with a crowd of middle school students and teachers who are immersed in the prewriting stage of new work. Some writers came to the table with seeds of ideas forming in their minds already. Others needed a bit of prompting to get there. I used a station-based prewriting activity called Exploring the Estate to engage the group in thought and conversation around topics that might be of interest to them. You can find it attached to this page. It’s a favorite, and it can be revisited time and again, since much discussion is stirred up within each single station involved. In the past, we’ve defined our writing territories, and like many other writing teachers, I like using artifacts, photos, music, and mentor texts to stimulate idea-gathering as well. I encourage writers to take their time here. When they rush through prewriting, the rest of the process is weakened as a result. So are final products, I find.

Ideas are one of the 6 Traits of Writing. Prewriting is the phase of the process where writers attend to ideas most. There are a million different ways in which writers can move through this and other phases of the process in connected ways online. Here are the first stops that come to my mind. I know there are many more….what would you add?


This post was the second in a series focusing on writing and the 6+1 Traits. You may find the others here:

What IS Good Writing?

Drafting: Giving Voice and Shape to Our Ideas

Introducing Young Writers to the Peer Review Process

Honoring Editors of Every Ability Level

Students Seeking Publication




1 Comment

  1. Prewriting is one of my favorite parts of the writing process because it produces so many ideas. Usually, I end up with not only a focused start for the assignment at hand but also additional ideas for writing to pursue in the future.

Write A Comment