Moving forward in your academic career can be both exciting and challenging. You have more freedom to choose the topics you write about.
The first step is to choose the question that you would like to answer. This may happen even in primary school. The challenge lies in deciding which question you are best at answering. You’re no longer just going through information and need to critically evaluate your knowledge and abilities.
There are more options. Sometimes you might get three or more essay prompts. Sometimes you may be given just one question. You can however choose from several options. This could be for a period or monarch, or even a case analysis. Finally, you’ll reach the point that you might have a topic selection to choose from. However, the title of the essay is entirely up to your discretion.
Sometimes, you may be given the opportunity to do this earlier. In which case you are given a list and told that you have the right to come up with your own essay titles. This is something few students will do. It can be risky and can lead to a difficult title. However, you can still create the perfect title.
It can be difficult to navigate all the steps of this process, including picking a question and a focus, as well as choosing a title, if you’ve never done them before. We will be discussing how to make your essay titles work.

  1. Answer the question you desire answered

It is best to think of the question you wish to answer in order to generate an essay idea. This may seem scary, as it suggests that the question is unanswered.
If this is how you think about it, then don’t. You’re not trying compete with the scholars in your field (at minimum, that’s what we hope not), but you are trying to do better than them if possible. It’s not about finding a new question to answer, but rather, this method of creating an essay title.
It is about creating an essay title that best suits your concerns, your interests, and your personal reaction to the subject matter you’re studying. You might find these fascinating things more interesting than a generic essay title. However, if you are unable to get through Jane Austen’s Emma, and find yourself angry at the title character, these may seem like minor complaints. But you can still make an essay from it. Austen described Emma, “a heroine whom none but myself will love” – Emma can be a very unpleasant character and you could write a fascinating essay on whether Austen was right.
This principle can be applied in any situation that you find strange, irritating, or just plain wrong. Then, use that to your advantage to study a topic more thoroughly. You might prefer to be deeply grateful for your studies, but the truth is, a lot of excellent academic investigations into various topics were based on someone looking at them.

  1. Consider the context

If your topic is boring or you don’t see anything that stands out, it’s time for you to make things stand out. It’s actually easy with the school curriculum. We rarely study the usual, boring, run-of–the-mill events, peoples and discoveries. We only study the noteworthy ones. We study the notable ones, not just how they differ from their predecessors.
You can get skewed perspectives if you have a lot of noteworthy things in your curriculum. We are more focused on Henry VIII, which changed the course of British history forever, than Henry VII, his father. But Henry VII brought an end the Wars of the Roses, but the event that saw the greatest impact on us today was when he handed the throne over to his son. It’s unlikely that you will understand how important the Henry VIII changes were if you only know about Henry VIII.
This is why it is so important to consider the context. This is especially true for subjects that require you to evaluate an artform. The canon is the most important eras in history. You will not understand the significance of these particular pieces if you look only at them. Students will often see Shakespeare as the only example of 16th century drama. But that doesn’t make it easy to appreciate Shakespeare’s genius. If you look at the work of any of his contemporaries, however, you will quickly see the differences in quality and depth. You’ll have something to write about, what makes it different and why.
If you are asked a question, your teacher will be pointing out the most interesting aspects of the topic. They will ask why Hamlet is indecisive and why Henry VIII chose to leave Rome. They won’t ask Shakespeare about a prince, rather than a commoner. Or why Henry VIII chose to become a great tennis player rather than live a happy and fulfilled life. If you don’t have a question, you must figure out what’s noteworthy or unusual on your own. This is why context is so valuable.

  1. You can use your third idea

Victoria Coren Mitchell wrote a column shortly before the death her father, Alan Coren. She recalled his advice regarding how to come up an idea. He suggested that you should not use the first idea you have for something as it’s the one everyone will think up. Your second idea is not the best, but it’s what smarter people with more thought will come up. Use your third idea. It’s the one you can only think of.
This is great advice that can be used in many areas other than writing. For example, when choosing Christmas presents. If none of the above options for naming an essay have worked for you, think of other ideas. Eventually, you’ll get rid of all the others and find your own title that you can succeed in.
Alan Coren’s explanation of the benefits of the third idea strategy is focused on originality. But that’s only one advantage. Only you can come up with a new idea. While your first and second ideas will draw heavily from what you’ve learned, they might not reflect your interests. The third idea, hopefully, will be based on your own ideas.
Thirdly, it’s about being open to new ideas. You should have two good, solid ideas on paper and be able to come up with something different. If you are at school, your teacher may be marking your essay alongside twenty other students (or more if there are multiple classes). A unique approach is a welcome relief from the identikit essay overload. Teachers will choose an essay that is more interesting, takes chances, and doesn’t get everything right, over one that is technically flawless, but is comparatively boring.

  1. Try unconventional methods of brainstorming
    If all else fails you have a lot of brainstorming options to help you come up with ideas. And one of them could work for your essay. Try these ideas:
    You should write down all the bad ideas you can. This counterintuitive brainstorming method helps perfectionists by taking away the pressure. What would you write if your teacher made fun of you for creating a horrible essay idea? This technique is great for those who are stuck in a “can’t find anything” loop. It can get your brain moving again and help you think of better ideas.

You should write for a certain amount of time without letting up. Give yourself a time limit, such as five, ten, or the time it takes to listen to a prog-rock song. Write about the topic for the time you have allotted. You don’t need to stop and think about the topic; just write. It might lead to garbage such as “Hamlet was very unkind to Ophelia and more so to Rosencrantz or Guildenstern, and he is trying to act a good person yet Horatio still thinks ill of him by the finish of the play so clearly Horatio is doing something right”, but you can keep going and maybe an idea will emerge. This technique is closely related to the first. Any topic that you find yourself focusing on when you have to stop writing is likely to be an interesting topic.
Try looking at it from another perspective. This technique can be used to solve any problem. It can be applied to anyone, from yourself five years ago to someone from another country or a person from 100 years back. Consider the approach that your friend might use to write an essay. It can be helpful to see things through the eyes of a friend when writing an essay.
An abstract noun is an example. This is useful for essays on literature and art, but it could also be used in other fields. You can think of an abstract noun such as happiness or love, purity, curiosity and hope. Then, consider how that might be applied to the object you are looking at. Let’s assume you are writing about The Industrial Revolution. Now think about how hope and curiosity play in this. This approach allows you to see how ideas can be sown.
What are your top essay ideas? Comment below!