What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Write

Writing Tutorial

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Write


No matter the major, no matter the school, college students do a lot of writing. Your English instructors will be throwing assignments at you as soon as you walk through the door, and even your other instructors want see what you’re made of. But what do you do when you don’t know what to write about?

Sample Problem

The problem? Writing is tough. And thinking is tough, too. And by the commutative property, thinking about what to write is also tough.

Many college freshmen fumble when their given their first writing assignments. They prefer to play it safe and follow the little guidelines and assignment sheets to their literal end.

These students just end up boring their instructors by regurgitating the lesson plan. And do you know what “bored” begins with? That’s right, C+.


The solution? I’m going let you in on a little secret: Just write about something crazy. If you really want to turn that C+ into an A, you’ve got to take a risk.

Professors want you to surprise them. They want you to push the boundaries of their assignments and do something fresh.

Some of my highest graded academic papers were on dryer sheets, Burt Reynolds, absinthe and a history of cheese that I completely made up. Don’t ever think a topic is too juvenile, too geeky, too un-academic or too anything.

“Too” is a good thing, because it means that you care about what you’re saying, and it means you will be presenting new and interesting information to the reader. Getting your paper to stick out from the pile is the easiest way to up your grade. Trust me, a professor would love to read an essay about Twizzlers over the gripping debate on school uniforms any day.

About The Author

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English Instructor: Writing, Literature & College
Hi there! I have 4 years experience as a cross-discipline writing tutor and 2 years experience as a college writing instructor. Reach out if you need help developing writing skills, tackling English literature or putting together a paper. Whether it's for college prep or college success, I can help.
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