Arguably the most difficult part of writing an essay is getting started. And getting started involves selecting a topic for your essay. Before you can do anything else including researching, outlining, and writing, you must select your essay topic. The perfect essay starts with the first sentence and sometimes the first sentence is the most difficult. Some wonder why the teacher or professor couldn’t just assign an essay topic and put us out of our misery.
But think about it. Wouldn’t you rather have the freedom to choose a topic of interest to you? You’ll generally write a better essay in a shorter period of time when you have some interest in the topic as opposed to some boring mundane topic about which you could care less. You’ll probably just count words until you meet the minimum requirements (if there are any) and that’s no way to write a good essay…especially if it’s an important essay like a college admission essay.
It’s really not very difficult to choose an interesting essay topic. But if your mind is blank don’t despair. Even the best copywriters in the world have “swipe files” to jog their memories and get their juices flowing. Copywriters are paid to write words that sell. They write what you might refer to as “junk mail” but there’s big money in it and these people have to come up with the best ideas. Their “swipe files” are full of sales letter known to have produced fantastic results. So when their mind is blank they turn to their “swipe file” for ideas. And you can do the same.
You can start your own “swipe file” full of ideas. Grab a notebook and a pen and let’s get started. Go outside, walk around, and observe what’s happening around you, and ask why? You should have no problem coming up with ideas. Don’t evaluate your ideas before writing them down, just write down as many ideas as come to mind. The more ideas (or possible essay topics) the better. You can whittle the list down to the best topics later but don’t worry about that for now.
What do you see? Trees? Birds? Dogs? People? Cars? What are these people doing? How are they interacting with each other? What questions pop into your mind? Write them down. And do it quickly. Ideas are like slippery fish. If you don’t write them down, they might slip away forever.
But that’s just the start. Go to the library and pick up the latest newspapers and magazines. Look at the articles and see what grabs your attention. Jot it down in your notebook along with questions that come to mind. Books in a library are categorized based on a system that takes their subject matter into account. Find that list and look at the general topics such as Psychology, Business, Nature, etc. Surely one or more of those topics is of interest to you. Now go to that section of the library and look at the books in that section. Your mind should be racing with ideas to jot down. Repeat this process for as many subjects as you want.
At this point you should have several pages of possible essay topics. Now it’s time to go through the list and circle the ones that you find most interesting. Try to narrow it down to 10 or 20. Do you see what you’ve just done? A short time ago your mind was blank. You were having a difficult time choosing an essay topic. Now you’ve got the opposite challenge. You have more interesting essay topics than you need. The decision as to which would make the best essay topic is yours but you’ll write a better essay if you are truly interested in the topic so keep that in mind. And there you have it. A simple way to choose an essay topic.