No, I’m not talking about Too Much Information. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read a paper that has Too Much Information in it. So add as many details as you can!)
I’m talking about something that is a bit more difficult, especially for creative types.
I often suffer from this very issue, and 90% of my clients suffer from it, too.
Have you guessed what it is yet?
Too Many Ideas.
When you sit down to start writing—any kind of writing, really—you likely have a billion ideas swirling around in your head. Which one do you choose? Which idea will make the best essay? Which is the most compelling story? Which shows off my strengths? Which will get me an A?
All those questions start swirling around and get tangled up with your ideas, and soon your ideas and your questions and your writing and your life gets totally jumbled and you have to watch an episode of Scandal just to shake yourself out of that thought spiral.
So now that you’ve identified the problem, how can you combat it?
It’s a super simple solution.
So simple that you might not believe it works. But I can assure you, it does.
Write your ideas down.
It seems impossibly easy, right? How can it work?
Well, your brain can move in a million directions at once, but your fingers can only do one thing at a time. So the act of writing (or typing) forces your brain to streamline your thoughts, making your ideas more concrete.
How should you write your ideas down? Any way you want! But if you’re stuck getting started, use this formula:
I want to write this paper about:
I think this is an amazing topic because:
Things I could mention in this paper include:
Complete those three easy prompts for each topic you’re thinking about writing, and I’ll bet that things will seem clearer for you. You might find that you don’t have a lot to say about one topic, or that one of your ideas doesn’t fully answer the assignment. You might find that two topics are really similar and can be combined into one killer essay. You might find that you have two or three topics that would make dynamite essays that you’re really excited about.
But Rosie, you’re saying to yourself, I can answer those prompts in my head. I don’t need to write them down.
I beg to differ, my friend. I, too, used to use that argument, and I’m here to tell you that more times than not, writing down your topic on paper is the way to go. Why? Because thinking topics through works well for the first idea, and probably the second idea, but by the time you get to the third, fourth, and fifth ideas, the clarity pool starts getting really murky.
Once you finish writing, you will now have all of your ideas in front of you. You can see all of your options. You can easily compare and contrast and make the best decision for yourself in that moment.
If it’s not on paper, it’s not real. So right it down—right now!
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