Choosing your essay topic

If you don’t have a topic in mind for your essay, or paper, the first step to writing is brainstorming and deciding on what topic you want. Generating ideas is the most creative and least methodical part of academic writing.

There are many methods to generate ideas However, there is no single way to create a winning topic. This article offers some helpful tips and techniques that will help you choose the right topic.
Understanding the assignment

First, determine the scope of your topic. You need to make sure that you understand the assignment given and that you have the answers.

What length is required for the paper (in words, pages)?
What’s the deadline?
Is the paper related to what was taught in class?
Do you need to do your research and use resources that aren’t being taught in class or can you do it yourself?
Are there any limitations on the subject matter and approach?

Your topic complexity is determined by the deadline and length of your assignment. The prompt could direct you to write one type of essay. It might also give you guidelines on how to approach the subject.
Example: Expository essay prompt
Select an invention of historical significance and explain the events and processes that led it to be developed.

This prompt provides a general topic. While it does not ask for any specific essay type, explain implies that expository essays would be the best.
Example: Argumentative essay prompt
What was the greatest invention of the 20th-century? Arguments from multiple sources can be used to support your argument.

This prompt offers a different way to approach the same subject. It requires you take a strong stance. This argumentative essay requires you to use evidence and sources to support your argument.
Ideas for topic creation

The hardest thing is to get started. These are three easy ways to get your mind moving.
Talk it out

Discussing ideas with a friend, teacher, and fellow student is a great way for you to find new approaches to the ideas that you have. It also helps you to uncover ideas that you may not have thought of.

Note down as many ideas that you can, and make note of them as you go. Once you feel you have written down all that is relevant to the idea, go on to a different one or explore another related idea.

It is possible to group related ideas together and create connections between them on your page.
Free Writing

This strategy is akin to brainstorming but it is much faster and more reflective. Choose a broad topic that you want to write about. You can then write on a pad or word processor for two to three mins. Never stop writing, even for a minute.

Any idea, no matter how crazy, that comes up, write it down. As long as it is relevant to the topic you started with, it will be accepted. Time yourself to ensure that you are writing for a minimum of five minutes.

When you are done, look over what you have written and note any helpful ideas.
Some tips for finding the right idea

Whatever strategy you use, you’ll likely have many ideas. But these tips will help guide you in choosing the best.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t think it is necessary to work logically

Good ideas often come from bizarre places. Isaac Newton’s head was hit by an apple. This gave rise the idea that gravity is possible. Mary Shelley had an epiphany, which led to Frankenstein, her beloved literary classic.

It doesn’t matter what method you use to get your idea. What matters is that it be a good idea.
It is possible to work from the general towards the specific

Your first great idea won’t be a fully formed thesis statement. Before you begin to search for an argument, choose a topic.

Before you can narrow down your topic and make it more specific, it’s important to start by thinking about it in broad terms.
Maintain momentum

You shouldn’t be critical at this stage. It could hinder your creativity. If you become too critical of your ideas, you can lose momentum.

Creative momentum is vital: While the first ten ideas in a sequence of related ideas might seem to be rubbish, the eleventh may be pure gold. If you stop your thinking process at the second, the eleventh will never come.
Let your imagination run

Avoid getting too attached at first sight to any topic. Although it may seem great, you should do your research thoroughly and think critically about the topic.

Though you might be thinking of a topic that is new, it doesn’t necessarily mean you must abandon one. You can always return to the original ideas later and decide what ones work best.
You can choose a topic of interest to you

Boredom is a recipe for boring writing. Look for something you love writing about. Or, find a way to combine your interests with the topic.

Pick the least boring topic among all boring topics.
Keep a notebook close by

When you least expect them, good ideas will come to your mind. Make sure to hold on to them when they pop up.

Many people think of their best ideas before falling asleep. You might find it helpful to have a notepad nearby.
Next steps

Once you’ve settled upon an idea, it’s time to start writing your thesis statement.

If you’re having difficulty writing a thesis about your topic, don’t worry. You can always change and return to the ideas you had previously.


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