Writing anything at all begins wisely and responsibly with generating ideas, and there are two ways to do that. I recommend doing both!
1. Talk about it.
First, whether this is an editorial, a personal letter, a business missive, or an epic novel, we must have at least one good, thorough conversation about the writing subject. Writing is best supported by generating ideas which naturally flow from discussion. It is important to listen, yes. But verbally sharing your own thoughts also helps to give them roots, as you are encouraged to voice them effectively. Your brain will begin to formulate all sorts of interesting points.
Choose to talk to someone you believe will really get in there because then all of the subtopics will surface. Plus, unexpected questions will be asked. And the real reason for the talk is to build energy and focus on the complexity of the idea – to dredge up all the things you had not yet even considered. Your person may not know that this is potential fodder for writing; that is up to you.
I used to nonchalantly raise issues at our work lunches, just to see what sorts of ideas people would share. I also talk with my sisters because we are each very different; therefore, I can gain new perspectives.
2. Brainstorm on paper.
Secondly, write out all the ideas in your head in phrases, words, and questions – your call. Some people are prone to outline in a list with roman numerals and letters, detailing in an orderly manner. Others like to map it out, or create a spider’s web, with a central topic and messy notions splattered all over the page, or details fanning out from the core.
All forms of linear, circular, or random thinking is acceptable. Just get those ideas down and expand at will. This action assures that you see the bigger picture before you ever write a single purposeful line intended for another’s view.
When I decided to write a novel on 4CE Scottish Highlands, I had to do research brainstorming because I had never been to Scotland in my life, and the 4th century was a brutal and mysterious time. I didn’t even know if it was cool to use American English in my dialogue.
Understanding these ideas would grant me some credibility: ancient tribal politics, pagan rituals and gods, foods, clothing, climate, architecture, animals, weapons, medicines, poisons, forms of transport, gender roles, and on and on. And that was all before I even created characters or a plot line!
Brainstorming and holding conversations helped me to prepare for a solid commitment. The purpose of these prewriting steps is to enjoy the process, develop full and rich content, and build that magical writing energy!