Effective note-taking can quickly provide you with an outline or a skeleton of what you need to write. It will help you to: decide where and how to start, conquer your fear of the blank page, and know exactly what you’re doing every time you sit down to write.
Writing down actual notes forces you to think and to deal with ideas as you read. If you read without taking notes, no matter how good your memory, you’ll find that any ideas you do have gradually drift away as new ideas filter in. Being a student I used to ask someone to write my essay, but now I use note-taking methods to simplify an essay writing process. Although note-taking can be fairly time-consuming, this time investment quickly pays off because it makes whatever you write so much easier.
Notes are a skeleton of your essay and are the key points of research relevant to your needs. There are two methods that I use frequently to take notes which I will describe below.
Note Taking Method 1: Making a List
Use lined paper to write down one key point from the research you’ve done per line. The key point should be summarized to no more than one sentence in length. Once you’ve listed all your key points, run through the list and: cross out any duplicate items.
Group related items using brackets or arrows and number items into a logical order that you can work with. This may mean using several sheets of paper until you get it right.
If you don’t like wasting paper, you can use the list method in notepad or a spreadsheet package on your PC. After you’ve completed this exercise, your list should resemble a brief outline from which you can start to write from. Below is an example of a list after it has been sorted.
Note Taking Method 2: Mind Map
The great benefits of this Mind Map technique were something I discovered when I attended a one-day study seminar. Ever since that day, I’ve used this system to: group information for quick and easy exam revision, brainstorm ideas for both articles and fiction, and create outlines from which I can write an essay.
The great thing about the Mind Mapping process is that it encourages your imagination to flow as you really have no restrictions.
A Mind Map is essentially a method of placing and making sense of information on a page. You start with a central theme and draw branches or lines from this theme to indicate sub-themes. Stanley S. Pham, a writer at the service where everyone can ask towrite essay for me, gives the following example:your central theme may be writing. Writing is a huge subject and you may have sub-themes such as fiction writing, article writing, copy-editing, and freelance writing. These sub-themes may be divided up again.
Fiction writing, for instance, may be divided into crime writing, fantasy fiction, murder and suspense, horror. Working with a Mind Map makes it easy to group related information and keep on adding items to your diagram.
How to Make a Mind-Map?
First Up – You Need a Blank Notepad
See how you can easily group related items and branch off into new areas. I have done this using my word processing program, but you are far less restricted by using paper and pens. Add color and diagrams to make the map more meaningful to you.
Want to know how to produce your Mind Map? Here’s how:
Get yourself a good-sized piece of blank paper. Use blank lines tend to restrict you and your thoughts. Mind Mapping is about freeing up your imagination.
Place your paper in landscape orientation. You will have more space for your thoughts if you place the paper with the longest side facing towards you.
Start in the center of the page. Write down some keywords which represent the topic or the key theme of what you are researching. Use a picture if you are creative enough to stimulate your imagination.
You Need Color Pens or Pencils
Draw your first line or branch out from your central theme to any outer edge of the page. Write down one of your key points. Your line does not need to be straight – it can be curved in any way you please.
Add other branches to reflect any other key points. It’s almost like you’re creating chapter headings for a book.
Once you’ve got all the main branches in place, work around your map and start filling in information for each of your key points. This is adding in the second level of thought. Your initial words should spark off some mental associations. Use smaller branches to sub-divide the information further.
Make important points stand out by highlighting them in some way. Perhaps draw circles or boxes around them.
Use similar colors to link related items and opposing colors to show conflict.
Make It Personal
Make your Mind Map as personal as you can – so it means more to you. The whole process should help to spark off new ideas.
Making notes, whatever method you choose to follow, is an effective way of stopping your mind from wandering as you read. It allows you to make some sense out of the words in front of you and helps you to create a natural order which makes your ideas so much more usable.
Using any one of the techniques I have shown you will provide you with an instant outline for what you are about to write. This will get you to feel so much more confident about attacking that first page and will help to ensure that you never get stuck for words again.