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Humanities LibreTexts

4.1: Exploring- Finding a Topic

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    • Contributed by Alexandra Glynn, Kelli Hallsten-Erickson & Amy Jo Swing
    • North Hennepin Community College & Lake Superior College

    Some people are lucky. When confronted with a writing task, they jump right in, tapping away at their keyboards or scribbling notes on their notebook pages, generating text without, it seems, a second thought. They’re the “chatty ones” of the writing world (in the best possible way, of course), chatting, while you sit by, staring at your blank page, wracking your brain and pulling out your hair, watching their sentences turn into paragraphs that turn into pages and pages, jealous.

    We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s obvious what to write about, but many times it’s not. Even if a topic seems clear, we might be missing out on an even better one because we get stuck on our initial idea. Sometimes we think our ideas are dumb; no one would want to read what we have to say. Sometimes we get a writing assignment and get paralyzed by the length. I have to write seven pages? You might think: There’s nothing I could write on for seven pages. This is going to be a disaster!


    Okay, stop.​​​​

    You cannot let your internal editor take control this early in the process. In fact, your inner critic needs to step off until you get to editing. At this point, you should relax your brain and get it into a place of open curiosity: instead of being paralyzed by the endless possibilities, be excited by those possibilities, and know that you’ll be able to find topics and points to make within those topics that will lead to solid writing.

    You can do it!

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