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Prepare to write: practical advice on how to come up with good ideas for essays

When you receive an essay topic from an educator, it’s fairly obvious most of the time what you have to do next. That can be a little more comforting than starting out without a topic and battling uncertainty to create your own. Here are a few steps you can take to help you along with that process.

Decide on a starting point

Pick a direction. Pick several if you must, but give yourself some sort of starting point from which everything else can evolve in time and take shape. It can be extremely vague at this point and may even change radically before the idea reaches the writing stage but this step is very useful when going through brainstorming. To give an example, your starting point could be Music.


Take the ideas that you have come up with and use them to construct mind maps. This allows them to spawn sub-ideas that can eventually provide you with the essay topic that suits your needs best. The starting point of Music could bring to mind Music Therapy, Bad Lyrics, Self Expression and other subtopics.

Search engines

Select promising ideas from the mind-mapping process and do essay plans for them. These plans will contain the points that you would elaborate on within the essay if that topic were chosen and any other relevant information. By doing this you can more easily pick out the topics that, though interesting, lack solid evidence to back their main points or may be too controversial to be explored in depth within the classroom setting.

Rank your ideas and pick the top one

Look at your potential essay topics with an unbiased eye (or borrow someone else’s) and begin to discard topics from the weakest all the way up until the strongest topic remains. Remember that some topics may be fascinating but require far more time to research than you have available within the deadline. From our subtopics you may have ended up with and ranked the five topics below:

  • How Music Can Assist in Forming Memories
  • The Affects of Violent Lyrics on Crime in Society
  • How Music Enhances Exercise
  • Why Musicians make Better Mathematicians
  • Music: A Common Human Legacy

The best topic for you at a particular point in time may be quite different from someone else’s and that’s fine. When given the choice, just allow your writing to express your thoughts.