- Research and innovation
- Leeds University Business School
Sounds simple. Make sure you have some writing paper and pen, pencil or biro to hand. When getting started with a piece of writing we’d recommend brain to thumb and forefinger in the first instance, rather than brain to mouse or keyboard. It’s a more natural conduit for capturing thought. Microsoft ‘Word’ is in effect a piece of editing software and what we’re looking for - if you’re using writing to assist thinking - is to develop thinking and connections before starting to shape and edit a finished article or essay.
Writing can be about many things but in the world of academia it’s mostly about articulating what you think. As E.M. Forster wrote: “How do I know what I think till I see what I write.” So, the very first step is to start using the writing process as a way of clarifying, marshalling and articulating your thoughts.
Jot down thoughts, feelings and impressions. As you do this, you may start to see or make connections. You may start to see that you are in one way creating a map of your thinking. That can be both fresh and exciting. What you might end up with is scribbles, jottings, phrases, connecting arrows, sketches and diagrams.
It doesn’t have to be tidy. It doesn’t have to be in a Moleskine or other fancy notebook. If using an A4 sheet of paper, it doesn’t have to be portrait. Spin it to landscape. In fact, the looser it is the better. Backs of envelopes and napkins are both excellent. What you will have is a pre-draft. It may look somewhat similar to a mind map.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Leeds University business school or the University of Leeds.