Brainstorming Techniques for Picking an Essay Topic

Deciding what to write about is one of the biggest challenges for most essay writers. Sometimes, there are just too many things that come to mind that it’s difficult to choose among so many options. At other times, writer’s block just comes in a little too early and all you can see is a blank piece of paper because you can’t think of anything to write about. Fortunately, there are, in fact, so many topics to write about. And there’s an effective way for you to get hold of these topics—brainstorming.

As a writer, you have probably used brainstorming at least once in your writing career, but there are a lot of creative ways to enhance the results you get out of this strategy.

1. Rolestorming

Put yourself in the shoes of another character, take their role and wonder what it’s like to be like them. How would your mother react to your situation? Your father, brother, sister, best friend and neighbor? What would an unknown police officer, an environmentalist, a deep-sea diver, an electrical engineer, a theater actress or a dentist say? Take it even further by visualizing what iconic figures like Mother Teresa, the Pope, Michael Jordan or even Lady Gaga would do about the situation.

2. Cubing

There are not only two sides to every issue. There are six, according to the cubing technique. You can describe an issue, compare it with something else, associate it with another issue, analyze it, apply it and argue for it or against it. At least one of these sides of the cube should be able to get your creative juices flowing. Which of these sides makes your brain go into overdrive? Follow that path and you’ll be rewarded with rich ideas that are worth putting down on paper.

3. Reverse Thinking

Everybody else seems hell bent in conforming to what everybody else believes should be the norm. That is no way to approach your essay topic. If you want to write something that your readers will remember forever, go for something different. Think of what everyday, ordinary people would do in a certain situation and go against the current flow of thinking. Chances are some people will be offended by how radical you are. In the long run, though, you will be remembered as somebody who shook things up by the pen. Or the word processor.

4. Random Input

This is a tried-and-true method, even if you have practically zero to start with. Grab a dictionary, thesaurus or encyclopedia and pore through the pages until a word catches your attention. You can also scan through newspapers, magazines, books and their online counterparts. Chances are something will catch your eye. When you find a word that commands attention, take it down on a piece of paper and jot down ideas that are related to that word. In one way or another, you will find something to write about.

5. Group Brainstorming

Writing for a class? A number of your classmates will also have the same trouble coming up with ideas like you. Why not help each other out by brainstorming together? But instead of the usual methods, do the brainstorming individually and exchange ideas with each other to build off on what others have already come up with. Two heads are better than one, so they say.

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