Grissom's Grammar and Composition

This blog is for any student writing papers for college, for current and former students in my Communications Cluster at Lindenwood University, and my students at St. Charles Community College.

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I write for myself, for the web, and for everyone who gets me. I've been on a fasting liquid diet, traveled to Europe, and raised 2 kids. And I'm directionally challenged - I get lost a lot.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Four Questions That Help You Find a Topic

Sometimes students are so anxious to start a writing assignment, they don’t take the time to choose a subject that works well for them.

It may take a few more minutes to come up with a topic you like, but that time will be more than made up in how much easier it is to write about something you care about. It's much harder to write on subjects you aren’t interested in. Here are some questions that lead to topic ideas that work.

1) What Do You Do Every Day?
Explore your daily activities for topics to write about. If your job is to wait tables at a restaurant, you are an expert in those skills. Classify the customers you wait on according to their personalities, or explain the steps the restaurant uses to fill orders quickly. List the subjects you have up close and personal knowledge of, and share your expertise in various papers.Caution: If you don't like any of these subjects, then don't use them! But consider taking a humorous angle and you might find something you want to write about.

2) What Are You Passionate About?
Make a list of all the subjects you love to think, read, and talk about. Music, comic books, reality television, animals – whatever you are passionate about. Then explore what attracts you to the subject. Do you love saltwater aquariums? Why does this topic fascinate you? Sharing what makes it appealing to you, makes the paper interesting to us.

3) What are Your Pet Peeves?
The things that annoy you in your world can be opportunities to explore the issues and come up with real solutions to make your world better. Don't offend your audience with attacks on your opposition, but calmly explain your view. Did your health insurance company refuse to pay for a family member's medical treatment? Turn your outrage into a research paper on managed care.

4) Who are You?
Among other things, I am a wife, mother, sister, granddaughter, employee, teacher, Star Trek fan, writer, reader, American, driver, sleeper, dieter, and volunteer. Focusing on issues related to any of these areas gives me several potential topics to write about. As a Star Trek fan, I could do a comparison and contrast of the old generation’s Captain Kirk to the new generation’s Captain Picard. Figure out all the labels that apply to you, and investigate connected issues that you can write about.

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