Brouillon Explained

[If you’ve clicked here before reading the Background, then consider visiting that page first for more context!] 

Brouillon Explained:

[Disclaimer: I do not speak or read the French Language, and I’ve never taken a French class. I learned Spanish in both High School and Undergraduate University. But I love this French word!]

In his book Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, John Bean defines brouillon as a French term for what we call “rough drafts” in the writing process. But what sets the word brouillon apart from the concept of rough draft is the fact that it derived from a verb meaning “to place in disorder, to scramble.”

“This metaphor suggests a writing process that begins as a journey into disorder, a making of chaos, out of which one eventually forges an essay” (Bean p.18).


And this isn’t anything new. Albert Einstein referred to his approach to creating as combinatory play. He would play his violin when grappling with a difficult math problem. This simple act was almost like the mental equivalent to marinating.

Let the ideas sit and rest, and then the flavor matures — the idea develops!

Visit the next page Brouillon in-Practice to see how I use this strategy in my writing and with my writing students.