Generating Essay Topics

17.05.23 The writing process Time to read: 5min

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Coming up with a good topic is often the first big step when you’re working on an academic essay. Choosing the right topic sets the stage for everything else, from your research to your final conclusions. In academic writing, generating essay topics that are relevant and manageable can make the whole process smoother. In this article, we’ll look at ways to brainstorm ideas, how to make sure your topic fits the assignment, and how to narrow it down to something manageable.

In a nutshell: Generating essay topics

  • Generating an essay topic is a must-do if your instructor has not provided a specific topic for your essay.
  • The first step is developing ideas about what you would like to write about. This is not a methodical step. Instead, it takes creativity.
  • When looking for an essay topic, you ought to understand the assignment, talk it out, brainstorm, and look for inspiration.

Definition: Generating Essay Topic

Generating an essay topic is the process of determining the best subject to cover when writing a research paper. It takes creativity more than methodology. The topic will determine the course of your paper. The goal is to identify a topic that is not only interesting to the writer but also relevant to the audience or the assignment’s guidelines. Generating a topic often involves brainstorming, researching, and considering various factors like the scope of the essay, available resources, and the time needed to complete the project. This initial step sets the foundation for the research and writing that follows, and a well-chosen topic can make the entyre process more engageing and effective. Therefore, generating it is a serious process. 

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Understanding the assignment

The first step in generating an essay topic is understanding the assignment. Your instructor will always provide details like the deadline, the required length of the paper, and the area that you should cover based on what you’ve studied and your research areas.

Even without a topic, the above information will help you determine the major elements of your paper. For instance, the length and deadline will determine the paper’s complexity. Your instructor may also provide a prompt, which will you the type of essay you should write. Below you will see examples of essay prompts of two types of essays.


  • Expository essay: Pick a city and explain its significance in society and the history behind it.
  • Argumentative essay: What was the most important event of the 20th century and why? Support your argument with proof from various sources.

Techniques for generating essay topics

Generating an essay topic is not as difficult as you may assume. Here are some strategies you can take to help with generating an essay topic.


You can talk about the essay with a friend, fellow student, or your lecturer. Talking it out will help you generate some ideas and think out of the box. It may also help you get inspiration.


Brainstorming is an excellent technique for generating an essay topic. It involves exploring spontaneous ideas from yourself or your family. The key is writing as many ideas as you can as they pop into your brain. Writing down the ideas would be helpful. You can always go back to your notes and cheque out what you have. In some cases, you may discover that some ideas have connections.

Writing freely

This is a faster and less reflective approach to brainstorming. You can give yourself a broad topic to explore in your writing. Once you have the topic, write on a paper or your computer about the topic for two to three minutes continuously. Make sure you do not stop even for a mument.

The trick is to write down anything that comes to your mind, even if it seems nonsensical. All that matters is that it is related to the topic. You can use a timer to ensure you take the right amount of time.

Once you are done, read through your text and search for any useful ideas. If the exercise is successful, you will come up with some great ideas for your paper and generate a topic.

Tips for generating essay topics

Here are some guidelines for coming up with essay topic ideas.

No need to think logically

Generating an essay topic is a creative process and not a logical one. Some of the best ideas have strange and illogical origins. For instance, an idea may come from your dream or a story with a friend. It does not matter where the idea comes from, as long as it is a good one.

Work toward specifics

A big mistake people make when generating an essay topic is going for specifics immediately. It helps to start from general subjects and ideas and work towards specifics. Start with a broad topic, then narrow it down to a precise thesis statement.

Learn to let go

If an idea does not work, you must let it go. Occasionally, what you thought was an appealing topic may turn out complex or boring when you start researching.

Noting things

Keep a pen and paper or notepad close, so you can note down ideas as soon as they come up. You may never know when a good idea will come to mind.

What interests you

It’s a great idea to write about topics that interest you. Your passions can inspire essay topics.

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What’s next?

After generating an essay topic, the next step is writing a thesis statement. Next, you can begin planning the essay structure and researching. You are always free to abandon a topic if you decide to change your mind or if it does not work out as you expected.


You can generate an essay topic by brainstorming, taking it out with friends, family, or fellow students, or through free writing. It also takes creativity.

Your topic will determine the course of your essay. Therefore, it will determine your score and how easily you write the paper.

There isn’t a single source of good ideas. The trick is to stay open-minded and know that a good idea can come from anywhere, even in random places like dreams or movies.

The next step in generating an essay topic is writing a thesis statement. Afterward, you can plan your paper’s structure and start researching.