I have a lot that I want to say in this paper, but I’m having difficulty organizing my thoughts.

Having a lot to write about a topic can be almost as frustrating as not knowing what to say. In both cases, you’re trying to figure out what pieces of information belong and how they fit together. Strategies for figuring out what to include are similar to those involved in brainstorming and generating ideas.

  • Create a list or a web of the ideas that you have. Having all the pieces in front of you can help you decide what to do with them. You can do this on paper or even with index cards so you can move things around more easily.

  • Sort the ideas you do have. Do some of these ideas seem to be saying very similar points? Could one be used as a main idea while others might be examples? If you can create categories, ask yourself: in what way might the categories be related? This can help you decide which to talk about first, second, third, and so on.
  • Be ready to leave out some topics. When we have a lot to say about something we can easily get off track. Writing about pet ownership could include things like what kind of pet one should buy, the best training strategies, how a having a pet could influence your social life. All these things are related, but including them all in one paper would be overwhelming. Select the pieces that fit together best, and save the other points for a different piece of writing.

What can the Writing Center do to help?

Writing Center consultants are available to help with any stage of the writing process. We can help you to identify the different points you have in response to a prompt and then sort them out. We can also talk to you about what you think the most important ideas are and how that relates to the other information you are considering including in your writing. Finally, for this kind of concern, we can help you develop an outline to write from after you leave the appointment.