Brainstorming can be very helpful for students who are just beginning the writing process. There are many different ways to brainstorm – some students might want to use these techniques to help them find ideas to write about. Other students might need brainstorming techniques to help them focus their ideas into something manageable to write about. Don’t forget – if one brainstorming technique isn’t working for you, go ahead and try another!


Brainstorming Techniques and Templates

PDFiconWC64x64Freewriting (Example or Blank Template)
Grab a piece of paper and write down any ideas that come to mind about your topic. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – just write! Once you’re finished, look at what you’ve written. There will be some junk – but there may also be great ideas for you to use. Sometimes just getting started is all it takes!

PDFiconWC64x64Cluster Diagram (Example or Blank Template)
A cluster diagram can help you visualize the main points of your paper. Write your initial topic in the center bubble. Use the surrounding bubbles to add supporting points/arguments you want to address. Add bubbles as needed – brainstorming techniques like this can help you organize and connect ideas.

Tree Diagram (Example or Blank Template)
A tree diagram begins with the initial idea or topic which is then broken down into subtopics. The subtopics are more focused in nature to help you to narrow down your topic into something more manageable. This method can also help you identify your main ideas.

PDFiconWC64x64Venn Diagram (Example or Blank Template)
If you are being asked to compare and contrast ideas, a venn diagram can help! It uses circles to visualize concepts and how they are related. Fill the areas that don’t overlap with information unique to each concept. Fill the area where the circles overlap with information the concepts have in common.


More Tools to Help

VIDEOiconWC64x64How to Choose a Topic (3 min.)
Learn basic techniques for deciding on a topic and focusing it to make the research process more manageable for you.

LINKiconWC64x64Credo Mind Map (Available from NAU Online Library)
Credo’s Mind Map can help you brainstorm a topic. Just type a phrase into the mind map search to explore related terms and phrases! This handout shows you how.

LINKiconWC64x64SIRS Researcher (Available from NAU Online Library)
SIRS Researcher lets you explore timely controversial issues from all sides, giving you facts on the history of a particular problem as well as pro and con information that can help you gather necessary ideas as you begin your research. This handout shows you how.

LINKiconWC64x64Craft of Research ebook (Available from the NAU Online Library)
This ebook walks you through the entire research and writing process. Two simultaneous users.

PDFICON 2Preparation and the Outline (PDF)
This PDF gives you information about getting started with your paper, focusing on techniques for creating an outline.

LINKiconWC64x64Coggle
Coggle is an online tool that can help you brainstorm and take notes.