The way I prewrite depends on the type of essay I am writing and the time constraints, but no matter what the essay may be, my prewriting revolves around structure.
Non-time Constrained Essays (Papers with a due date)
I write down any requirements, questions, or topics for the essay as dictated by a rubric or class instruction. If the essay has one main question, than this is the time that I will type out my introduction.
2. The Skeleton
I take the questions or topics that I typed out and place them in a separate document. I leave space between each heading to fill in information.
3. The Substance
I do research and write relevant information under the corresponding topic title.
Time Constrained Essays (Essay Tests)
For essays that have a time constraint, like essay tests, I use this chart structure to map out my ideas and quickly get myself organized during prewriting. This is one of the most useful writing skills I learned in Elementary school. I don't remember what it is called, and I couldn't find it online so I made this one. This has to be the quickest way to get myself on track when writing an essay in which every moment is precious. I even drew out one of these for the essay portion of my SATs. Now, I mostly do it off hand and don't need the chart, but I still used the same method.
1. Write the Introduction
2. Fill in main ideas
3. Brainstorm supporting ideas
4. Start drafting