Prewriting|Techniques You Can Use To Find And Focus On A Writing Topic

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Writing ideas are everywhere, right? Sure they are! Whatever you see, hear, sense around you or converse about with someone, can serve as an idea to write about. 

In spite of the thousands of ideas around you, you might still find it hard to pick and focus on a particular writing topic.  For this reason, prewriting becomes the first stage of the writing process to help you find and concentrate on a particular subject.

During prewriting, you generate ideas by venting your imagination to let striking topics shine through.

When you sit before a blank page, be it your computer, notepad or journal, you are being waited upon to put some ideas down. Maybe you have a topic before you but need some ideas or you have no topic at all. Prewriting comes to your rescue like magic.


How do you begin the journey towards finding and focusing on a writing topic?

Start With Generating Ideas


You can generate ideas by using the following prewriting techniques.


  • Pick any topic
  • Set a time limit to help you stop at a particular time say five minutes. You don’t need to free-write all day for ideas.
  • Write down your ideas as they come to you.
  • Ignore spellings, grammar, punctuation and logic during this time
  • If you run out of ideas, repeat the word severally until your ideas begin to flow again.
  • Once the time is up, review what you have written.
  • Pick the idea that is most interesting. That’s the one you’ll like to work with.


You can generate ideas by collecting raw material from other sources. I call it raw materials because those ideas collected in this way are to start you off and help you produce a brand new end product – a topic to write about.

You can collect ideas from books, movies, conversations( between you and others, or among others in your environment), journal you have kept, newspapers and magazines.

  • Pick any idea from the above resources
  • Free-write about it for five to ten minutes.

Explore Your Ideas


This helps you to clarify your thinking and find a focus for your writing.

   ✔Making a list

Pick a key idea and list other related ideas under it.

For example;

Places I have visited


-Burj Khalifa

– Polo Park

– The Egyptian Pyramid

– My grandmother’s house

– The National Museum


Once you have finished making your list, go through them to pick the ones that seem most interesting to you.

    ✔Asking Questions

Another way to explore your ideas is by asking questions; who, what, where, when, why, how.

Sample questions

  • Who or what do I want to write about?
  • What happened to my subject?
  • Where did this happen?
  • When did this happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it happen

You can ask personal questions. This can move you to react to your topic and helps you analyze your experience.

You can ask creative questions to relate or compare your subject with something different from it or image This can broaden your standpoint on a subject.

You can also use analytical questions helps you to explore the structure and function of your subject – to analyze and make decisions.

Informational questions can help you find out the truths or facts about your subject.

Narrow Your Topic

By now you should have gotten a topic and maybe it’s a broad one. You need to narrow it to make it easier to research on and write about.

Narrowing your topic makes it more specific – with a reduced scope.

Let’s say you want to write on the topic Novels. This is a broad topic and you just have to narrow it down. You may use the following for this purpose.

What time period would you like your topic to focus on? You may decide to focus on Eighteenth-Century Novels

What location do you want your topic to be in?  You may decide to use Japan as your location. Your topic will narrow down to Eighteenth-century Japanese Novels.

What category do you want it to be? You may decide to write about The Eighteenth-Century Japanese Detective Novels.

What problem do you want it to focus on? You may narrow it to The Eighteenth-century Japanese Murder Detective Novels. Does your topic sound right and interesting to you? Is it specific enough? If yes, you’re good to go.

That’s all about finding and focusing on your topic.

What technique or method do you use to find and focus on your writing topic?

12 thoughts on “Prewriting|Techniques You Can Use To Find And Focus On A Writing Topic”

  1. I find this helpful; it resonates with me. My greatest trouble (when it comes to writing) is how to start. It can take me a great deal of time to figure out what to write and how to set out. However, once that’s sorted, the rest may not be an issue.

    I’ll be falling back on this post from time to time. Thanks for sharing this.

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