Despite all of the increasing technological advances, writing is still a main form of communication. Beginning in grammar school and continuing through high school and college, thousands of students spend hours preparing essays for class. The majority of students usually begin drafting those essays merely by staring at a blank sheet of paper and contemplating what to write. However, writing essays can be simplified by using four types of prewriting: free writing, clustering, specifying, and outlining.

The first type of prewriting is free writing. It is used to help writers select a topic to write about. The key to free writing is to disregard correct spelling and punctuation, and just write down everything that comes to mind. To begin free writing, simply choose a subject and start writing about it. Take nature, for example. The word "nature" evokes many diverse images. Ranging from outside surroundings, personal relationships with nature, the beach, a beautiful sunset, a peaceful waterfall, or even the many environmental concerns that we are faced with today. Environmental concerns could stem out an excellent idea that could lead to a topic such as the need to recycle. Images of nature can inspire creativity, which leads to a variety of different topics.

The next type of prewriting is clustering. Once a topic has been selected, clustering helps to accumulate the essential support for the paper. Clustering begins with a sheet of paper that has only one topic written and circled in the center. Anything that relates to the topic is then written down with a line branching off from the original topic. This process is continued until enough information is brainstormed. If the original topic is movies, the support branches would include different types of movies such as comedy, drama, romance, action, and horror. Then a list of different movies that fall into each one of these categories extends out from the first support branches. A paper is not complete without ample support, and clustering is a great way to gather it.

Another type of prewriting is specifying. It is used to change a topic idea to a more specific thesis statement. Simple questions such as who, what, where, when, and why will add more description and detail to the writing. To specify, the topic idea is written down on paper and simple questions are asked to make it more specific. For instance, the topic Camping is exciting can be specified into a more descriptive sentence such as: "Many new and different experiences such as hiking, cooking over an open flame, and sleeping under the night sky are fun to experience when camping in the mountains with friends. The thesis is the most important aspect of an essay, and specifying helps develop a strong thesis statement to be supported throughout the paper.

All papers must be organized in a logical order, and outlining is used precisely for this. For example, a process essay tells the steps of how to do something, so chronological order is the best way to organize this type of essay. An outline places the thesis on top and then presents the framework of the essay. The outline for a process essay about how to cook a grilled cheese sandwich would designate the introduction, as Roman numeral one, and then a consecutive Roman numeral for each step of the process. For example, heating the skillet would be Roman numeral two, and gathering the ingredients would be Roman numeral three, and so on. A final Roman numeral would designate the conclusion.

Writing will always be a main form of communication. Therefore, students throughout their years of school will still have to compose numerous essays. However, writing those essays can be simplified through prewriting. With the increase in technology, there is an increase in communication. Through Telephones, fax machines, computers, e-mail, and the Internet, communication is made much easier and is used worldwide by many people. However, for students, writing papers will always remain. Although computer assistance is available, papers will always have the need to be organized and thought out. Using free writing, clustering, specifying, and outlining to plan a paper will make writing essays much simpler, and will better ones performance as a writer.