Once you have chosen a topic and created a working thesis statement, now what? Well, since you know your specific topic, audience, and purpose, now it is time to begin deciding what main ideas/points will actually go into the essay. You probably already have a good idea about what some of these will be, but now is the time to get them down.
At this point you should spend a few minutes brainstorming about your thesis and writing down any and all ideas that may relate. There is no need to edit these ideas as they come; instead, simply write them all down and you can then edit and group them when you are done.
For example, let’s say that you are writing an essay about how to become a better essay writer (great topic, by the way). You have created this working thesis: In order to become a better essay writer, a beginning college student should learn the basic steps in essay development. Now that you have this thesis, your job is to decide what the basic steps in essay development are. Again, you probably have an idea, but spend a few minutes coming up with as many ideas as possible by simply listing them on a piece of paper. Then, once you have a comprehensive list, evaluate the list and decide which of the ideas is most important and how some of them can be grouped together.
Once you have a list that has been evaluated and organized, you can put that list together into a more comprehensive outline. Doing this will help to prevent getting stuck during the actual writing phase and needing to perform major reorganization to your essay.