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1. Brainstorm Ideas

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In this video, you will brainstorm ideas for an essay.

You may start by brainstorming a topic to write about.

Or, if you were assigned a topic, you may start brainstorming information about that topic.

To brainstorm, you will create a bulleted list in a Google document.

Then, you will highlight potential search terms and phrases to help you prepare for your research.

Digital documents are great tools for brainstorming.

You can easily keep track of and reorder your ideas and you can search for more information from within your document.

Brainstorming before you start your research can help you: When you receive an essay assignment or start a new writing project, brainstorm what you already know and what you need to know about the topic.

There are lots of ways to brainstorm.

Depending on the assignment, you might want to: ...make a bulleted list to help you quickly scan your ideas...

...draw a diagram or table to organize your thoughts...

...construct a table to consider different ways you might complete the assignment...

...or freewrite to get your thoughts out on the page.

In this activity, you will use a bulleted list.

To start brainstorming, open a new Google Document.

From a new tab or window, go to Google Drive.

Open a new, blank document.

Rename your document “Brainstorming”.

If you already have a topic or assignment for your paper, type it at the top of the document.

If you don’t have an assigned topic, brainstorm what you want to write about.

Once you pick a topic, you can brainstorm more about it.

Next, start a bulleted list.

Bulleted lists help you collect your ideas.

You don’t need to connect or organize your points right now.

You don’t even have to write in complete sentences.

To get started brainstorming, start a bulleted list.

Select a style you like.

Next, spend a few minutes brainstorming your topic.

Or, if you already have your topic, brainstorm what you already know about it.

Write down anything that comes to mind.

You could make a list of facts you know about your topic.

Or you could list sources or ideas to research.

Next, add things you don’t know about your topic.

You can use these questions later to conduct research for your paper.

When you finish recording what you know and do not know about your topic, take a look at what you wrote.

If you’re writing a short reflective essay, you may have enough in your brainstorming document to start drafting your paper.

Or, if you’re writing a longer research paper, use your brainstorming document to guide your research.

To identify main ideas for your paper or questions for further research, highlight them in your document.

To highlight, click and hold the mouse button while you select text.

Select highlight and choose a color.

Highlight points you definitely want to include in your paper.

Or, highlight key words or phrases you might use to research your topic in a library catalog or in an internet search.

These search terms, will help you search the internet to find more information about your topic.

Highlight at least 3 search terms, questions, phrases, or sources to focus on when you write your draft or when you conduct research on your topic.

Using a document to brainstorm ideas is useful when starting any new project.

You could brainstorm: A to-do list of tasks you need to complete... to a problem...

...ideas for a group project...

...Or an outline for your paper.

You can even share your brainstorming document with others to collect their ideas, get feedback, or see what they know about your topic.


  1. Create a new document, and name it “Brainstorming.”
  2. Write the essay prompt or your paper topic at the top of the document.
  3. Create a bulletted list for brainstorming.
  4. Brainstorm for a few minutes. Get your ideas down about things you do and don’t know about the topic.
  5. When you’re finished brainstorming, highlight search terms you could use in your research or ideas you will use in your first draft.