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Profile for johnwhitfield1712
johnwhitfield1712
Member Since: January 14, 2019
Stock Keeper
Posts: 3

Sometimes, however, such limitless options can cause what's called "decision paralysis," or a person's inability to make a choice when too many choices are available. This can lead to procrastination, confusion, or even an avoidance of the writing assignment entirely. In order to prevent such damaging decision paralysis, what a student needs in this situation is a plan.

Step One: Limit your Possibilities by Carefully Adhering to your Teacher's Guidelines

If your teacher has offered some set guidelines, please remember to read those guidelines first, before establishing a plan that might be outside of his or her guidelines. For example, does your writing need to be within one of the two major categories of either fiction or non-fiction? Is there a word count requirement, or has your teacher asked you to write a research paper or an essay? Are works of creative writing allowed or expected? Always be sure to stick to the requirements you've been given, and if you are unsure, the first person to ask is your teacher. Sticking to the requirements can help you narrow down your options so you won't feel "lost in a sea of choices."

Step Two: Narrow your Topic

If you are given a broad topic, it's best if you narrow your topic to a manageable size before starting to draft your assignment. There are a few ways to do that.

First, you can use clustering or mind-mapping to brainstorm some ideas that surround the topic. For instance, if your topic is "ants," you could write an entire book about ants! To make the topic smaller in scope, think about what is it about ants that might make them interesting to you. Draw your bubble-map or cluster as large as possible to get down as many ideas as you can. Some of your subtopics might include "annoying at picnics," "fun to watch work," or "how they build anthills."

Another way is to come up with questions you want to answer about ants or a story you might want to tell about ants. Take a moment to ask yourself if you have an opinion about ants.

Additionally, ask yourself if you have an attitude or a specific feeling about ants. This is different than having an opinion. An opinion might be that you believe they are very smart and ingenious builders. An attitude or tone might be that you think they are creepy.

Lastly, you could make a series of lists about all the things you already know about ants, including facts, descriptions, or personal experiences.

Jot down a few ideas about how you can narrow your topic, and keep the ideas handy. After thinking about your list of ideas, the choice about how you want to tackle your assignment might become clear to you. If not, there are some other activities you can try.

Step Three: Choose a Purpose and an Audience

Take a look at your prewriting and the ideas you have about how to narrow your topic or take this ideas from essayhelpwriter.org or from other sites. For example, to continue with the example of ants as your topic and the narrowed topic of ants being ingenious builders, you could jot down that your purpose for writing is to "explain to others how ingenious ants are when building," or to "write a story that shows how ants work together ingeniously when building." Even better, you can combine these purpose statements with your choice of an audience by rephrasing these to include the specific audience. Instead of using the word "others" in your statement, try substituting "my classmates," "my mom and dad," "my little sister," or "my science teacher.". Based on these ideas, can you come up with a purpose for writing your assignment other than, of course, because your teacher wants you to complete the assignment and you want a good grade?

After you choose a purpose and audience, write down your purpose statement, set it aside, but keep it handy. After this activity, you may be ready to begin your assignment, but you may also still feel like there are too many options.

Step Four: Match a Genre with Your Narrowed Topic, Your Purpose, and Your Audience

At this point, you may not have chosen how to tackle your writing project, yet, simply because you are unaware of the genres of writing available to you. There are so many ways to write, it's challenging to think of them all.

However, help is available. Colorado State University has published an online list of a genres they have named "A Brief List of Genres," and it includes 60 different options! The key to not being overwhelmed by such a list is to make sure you match your narrowed topic, purpose, and chosen audience to one of the genres.

Some of your options could include the following:

An expository, argumentative, descriptive, or narrative essay
A poem, song, or fictional story
A tribute or toast
A comic, script, or storyboard
An interview or biography
You have to ask yourself, though, which of these will help you communicate the most effectively to your audience in a way that meets your purpose. If your purpose statement reads, "I will write about ants to explain to my 5 year-old sister how ingenious they are when building," an argumentative essay may not be the best option. However, a storyboard, a song, or a simple informative essay might help her to truly understand your opinion about ants. On the other hand, if you are writing for your science teacher, an interview with an expert on ants or a research report about ants might be a great choice.

In the end, when given such freedom to choose how best to write about your topic, the choice really is up to you. However, don't fall victim to decision paralysis! Instead, use your imagination to generate a plan, give yourself time to generate a long list of good ideas, and then carefully choose the best option for your topic, purpose, and audience.



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