Professors and books and other reliable sources say the best way to begin writing a paper is brainstorming.
“Write down everything that comes to mind about the subject,” they say.
This is not necessarily the way to start writing a paper. Nor is it the only, foolproof way of beginning it. So I, naturally, having many opinions that I share fairly freely, have an alternative.
First, make sure of a topic before starting a paper. This is where a semblance of brainstorming comes in. Make lists of events or people or ideas you’re interested in researching. Example:
-The British Library
-the advent of the pencil
-why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears
Second, once you’ve decided on a topic (why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears), plot a plan of action for the paper–like a general outline. Like this:
I. they think people can understand them
II. they’re small and need to be noticed
III. they can
IV. they know how annoying it is
Third, start researching the topic. Look for articles and books and magazines and not Wikipedia. Make sure you keep an alphabetical card catalogue of sources–you’ll need them later. Also, take notes of ideas and information you can use to write your paper. Like so:
William, William. Mosquitoes Are the Greatest!! Swamp Books: the Glades, 1994.
‘William William says that mosquitoes have a pride complex, especially the ones in Florida because they can really, really annoy people. Apparently this is a good thing’.
Fourth, after you have completed this prep work, you may start brainstorming because you have something in your head to brainstorm about. Start thinking of what you would like to include in your paper and what you would like to prove or say and what words you would to use. More examples:
To include-’swamps’, ‘Florida’, ‘other wetlands and moisty places that may breed snooty mosquitoes’
To prove-’mosquitoes in the Caribbean are actually more annoying than mosquitoes in Florida’
Words to use-’emphatically’, ‘majority’, ‘exceedingly’, ‘excessively’, ‘snobby’
Of course, careful preparation does not eliminate future dilemmas, but it does alleviate initial mental blockage. One important and final hint of writing a paper is: Always write about something you love and will still love even after you have spent many excruciating hours studying it.