The terms "brainstorming" and "freewriting" are sometimes confusing. This is what I mean when I use the term "brainstorming"--let's say your topic is sci-fi movies (these assignments won't be that interesting). Write a list of sci-fi movies. Pretty simple. If this is a homework assignment or an online class feel free to use the internet to find more topics.
It's not quite that easy however. There can be no white space on the paper. In other words, if I assign a full page of brainstorming topics, your assignment is not to write just one column. You have to fill the paper.
If this is a face-to-face class these assignments should be handwritten. Online students need to type this in columns or just a long list with columns, whichever is easier for you based on your knowledge of the software you're using.
Do NOT do any of the following assignments unless I specifically request them.
Finish these terms. The first time I/The last time I. Do not keep writing those two phrases, just keep filling in that blank. This is a precursor to a reflective essay. There should be what is called "dramatic distance." That is, it's your point of view, but not the you from when it happened. You can look at it now with different eyes.
Make a list of "things I want to know more about." Plain and simple.
Some classic arguments are abortion, capital punishment, creation vs. evolution. Add these to your list, but be wary if you use them for papers, unless there is a new refreshing perspective. These topics have been argued so much and for so long in American society and politics that we are all familiar with both sides, and we should acknowledge a certain amount of stalemate when discussing them. Modern classic arguments might include the new health care legislation, new immigration problems, possibly the use of Superpacs, etc. Your list can include both classic and modern topics. A rant is similar in topic but different in function.
PERSUASIVE FOR CHANGE
Slightly different than the above topic. Make a list of things for which you can encourage change on the following levels: personal, family, local, statewide, national, world. The final assignment for this would be in letter or email form.