Sometimes just looking online at a news site, or skimming a newspaper or a magazine can help you generate an idea that might be useful for essay development. Skimming can be a form of prewriting, although you definitely will go back and forth between skimming and other prewriting strategies, such as brainstorming, making a list, or more.
If you can’t identify a focus for an essay through other prewriting strategies, skim a newspaper, magazine, blog, or website, something in which the writer offers his or her own thoughts and assertions about an issue. Does any article immediately interest you? Can you easily identify some personal thoughts about the same issue, or about a related issue that occurred to you as you skimmed the publication?
Skimming may lead to a closer reading of the text, and may lead into the prewriting strategy of responding to a text. Or it may simply jog your thinking about possible topics. Either outcome is fine, as a way of generating some ideas for writing. Once you have an idea, go back to other prewriting strategies and use what makes sense to you to help develop that idea further.
The following video explains how to skim effectively.