Triage Your Thinking: Choosing the Right Ideas
I often have trouble deciding what to write about in a paper. It is typical for one initial idea to spin off into multiple different yet relevant avenues, and I hit a wall in my writing as I struggle with all of these thoughts. Each avenue feels equally important, so how do I decide which ones to use?
I usually begin by asking myself a few questions:
- Which of these points are imperative to my audience’s understanding of my topic?
- These ideas were inspired by my thesis topic so I know they support it to a degree, but are there any that support my thesis exceptionally well?
- Which of those thesis-supporting ideas work together to establish a cohesive framework for my paper?
Ideally, these questions help me tease out the most relevant and beneficial concepts, which in turn allows me to easily formulate a basic road map for my paper, as I tend to have a better handle on what I need, and want, to include.
Of course, as I continue writing, I encounter additional ideas that require me to pause and reflect once again, but this process becomes easier and more automatic each time I implement it within my writing.
It took a while to discover a process that works for me, and I am still amending it while I grow as a writer. I often revisit the basics for structuring and organizing a paper, so that I may reflect on what specifically is tripping me up, and tweak my process with intention.
Graduate Assistant, Virtual Writing Center