Choosing a Topic for a Writing Project

One of the biggest challenges students face with a writing project is choosing a topic. In some classes, you’ll be given a list of possible topics to start from, but that doesn’t take care of all the work for you. In other classes, you’ll simply be told to choose a topic and the left to your own devices to do so.

Tip #1: Choose something that’s in your wheelhouse if you can.
Whenever possible, choose a topic about which you already know something or about which you’ll need to know at some point in the future. Are you studying to be an accountant or a medical office manager? Choose a topic that allows you to explore an aspect of writing in that specific career, such as communicating with clients. Do you have a particular passion for working with children or animals or something else? Choose a topic that allows you to learn more about something that’s important to you.

Tip #2: Choose something that has been well-researched already.
Don’t think that you can do all the research that’s necessary to complete your writing project during a course. Instead, choose a topic for which there’s already research information available. Then, integrate that information into your writing project along with your own analysis and ideas.

Tip #3: Choose something that’s manageable in a short period of time.
Just like with the research issue, you’re not out to solve all the world’s problems in a single semester (or portion thereof, depending on your class length). If you want to solve the childhood obesity crisis, that’s great for a life goal, but what are just a few aspects of that crisis you can write about in 1,000 to 1,500 words?

Tip #4: Choose a topic that’s interesting – to you.
After all, you’re going to have to write about this topic quite a lot, especially if it’s a writing project that spans several weeks in a class. If you get bored easily, choose something that would normally hold your attention. Is your favorite television show a crime drama? Perhaps a criminal justice topic would help you maintain your interest accordingly, assuming it works with the assignment parameters.

Tip #5: Choose something relevant.
Look at current events to spark your interests for topics. Be careful to choose something that is relevant to your current coursework. Just because there is an ongoing autism-vaccination debate doesn’t necessarily mean that the topic is a good one for your particular writing situation.

Tip #6: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re stuck and don’t know how to proceed, reach out to your instructor – or to us! – for help with choosing a topic. Your instructors have all been where you are today. We’ve all had to learn how to choose meaningful writing topics over the years, and we’re not afraid to share our advice. When you approach your instructor, make sure you tell him or her what your interests are and what you’ve considered thus far. Don’t just go in asking for suggestions without offering some of your own.


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