Find Topic Ideas for Writing Assignments

Find Topic Ideas for Writing Assignments

Sometimes the most difficult part of a writing assignment is figuring out what to write about. Whether you are in middle school or high school, writing is important in almost all classes. Good for you for selecting this goal to help you get started on becoming a better writer.

Here are some suggestions that can help:

  • Google "graphic organizers" and pick one (or more) that will work for you.
    Graphic organizers can be great writing tools and can help you arrange your ideas in a visual manner. These tools can also help make your writing very personalized and can be used for teaching creative thinking skills, for brainstorming ideas, to help classify ideas, and to generate detail for writing.

    Tip: A common problem in writing is choosing topics that are too broad for a typical school writing assignment. Graphic organizers can help alleviate this problem.

  • Use one or more of the following brainstorming techniques to help generate topics:

    • Listing. Select an idea or key term related to the writing assignment. As quickly as possible, list as many items or words that relate to that topic. Then go back and pick items that might be useful as a topic idea.

    • Freewriting. Using an egg timer or a cell phone alarm, set a short time limit such as 10 or 15 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind on the topic at hand. Put your writing away for a little while and then come back to it to pick out ideas that could be used as a topic.

    • Reference book scramble. Write key ideas or terms from the writing assignment. Then use dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses, or any handy reference work related to the topic to randomly look for entries that trigger useful idea. This can also work with an Internet search engine by typing in key related terms.


  • Create a time capsule for writing topics.
    Ask yourself what you would put in a time capsule that would be opened 20 years from now and that would show the future what life is like now. Then look at the list of items and write a short paragraph about why that item would be included. Expand upon one of those paragraphs for a full-length writing assignment that explores why something is important.

  • Look through photo albums to find topic ideas.
    Pull out a photo album or a coffee table art book. Or type a word relating to the subject into Google and choose the "images" results. Look through the images and write two or three words per image. For each picture, develop two or three topic ideas. For example, a photo of someone playing the saxophone might inspire you to think of such topics as the history of jazz, music therapy techniques, or the latest advances in acoustics technology.

    Tip: Using photo albums or art books to find writing topics is especially helpful for kids with a visual learning style. If you learn better this way, try this approach and see if it works.

  • Use my iPod if I prefer an auditory learning style.
    It may sound crazy, but the iPod can be a useful tool for writing if it is used in the right manner. Turn on the iPod and listen to two or three favorite songs (assuming your parents approve of the content). Does it remind you of an event or a place? It may even remind you of a particular person to write about.
  • Play a game of "what if?" with my parents to get things started.
    Ask your parents a question that asks what he would do, where she would go, or who he would want to be. You can be as creative and outlandish as you want. Then let your parents ask you a question that starts the same way. Try to ask questions that are associated with the general subject about which you have to write. This is a great way to get ideas flowing and have fun at the same time!

    Example: For example, if you are supposed to write a paper on Shakespeare, you could ask questions like, "What would you do if you could rewrite any of Shakespeare's plays? " "Which of Shakespeare's villains would you want to go to an amusement park with?" "Why?"

  • Write down what I am passionate about.
    What do you really care about? Are there political, social, or humanitarian causes that you feel strongly about? Do you have a hobby that has been a major part of your life? Try to pick a few topics that are related to important causes and write them down on a piece of paper. Be sure to keep the paper to use for future writing assignments.
  • Check out the following websites: