How to spark your imagination and start writing original essays

There are dozens of different kinds of essays, from research papers, to argumentative papers, to compare and contrast papers. So the most important first step in writing creative, original essays is to be sure that you know what kind of paper you have been assigned to write, or you want to write. This will tell you a lot about the process of writing it, and the tone that you use in it.

Brainstorm around your topic:

Some paper topics that you will be assigned will seem fairly straightforward, like there is a set direction that is obvious in responding to the prompt. Often times, these are the easiest routes to take when it comes to papers. But if you are interested in going above and beyond the easiest route, try brainstorming to find other, more creative avenues to pursue.

There are several different kinds of brainstorming that are helpful in exploring paper topics. The first, and one of the most popular, involves mapping out your topic. Start with the core topic written in the middle of the page. Then break it down into its component parts, webbing them out around the core topic. Then you can start to map out how the core topic and its components are related to other topics. Often times, understanding more clearly how things are related will help you find a great angle for your paper, because exploring relationships, either within your topic, or between your topic and others, can make an excellent essay.

Ask ‘what if’ questions about your topic:

Another imaginative way to approach a paper topic is to ask ‘what if’ questions about it. These could be ‘what if a certain person had not been present for this historical event’ or ‘what if the author had treated a certain theme in the book differently’. While these can easily stray into the realm of speculation, and may not be suitable paper topics themselves, they can be helpful jumping off points for you in your brainstorming process. By imagining how your topic might have been different, you’ll more thoroughly be able to understand how it is.

Don’t always start with the evidence:

While this approach would make scientists role over, it can be a particularly useful strategy to writing a creative paper. Typically, if you were writing a paper about a certain text, like a book or paper, you would formulate an argument based on the evidence that you’ve found in the text. But if this isn’t getting you anywhere, in coming up with an imaginative topic, it can be a good exercise to come up with an argument that the text does not necessarily point you toward, then try to find evidence for it in the text. This can help to force you to read it differently, and see how the same passage may be understood in different ways.

Argue the opposite:

If there is a position that seems clear to you for the essay, try arguing the opposite. This will force you to be more creative about crafting your argument, and not just fall back on your assumptions or what you automatically take as true. Not only will it help you to write a more creative paper, but it will help learn to approach problems more openly, and how to better deal with someone in life who you disagree with. While writing a paper this way may not change your mind, it will almost certainly make for a more creative paper.

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