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SPARK: Strategies for Starting

A resource for students wanting to improve their academic and research skills.

Strategies for Starting

Look at your weekly schedule and identify the times available for working on your major assignments and essays. Try to make sure you have at least an hour at a time to work on your essay, though smaller amounts of time can be productive for some people. 

You can begin by writing in a general way about very simple things such as what you already know about the topic of the assignment, or why you love it, or hate it, or what you don’t understand and think you need to learn more about.

There are many useful starting techniques; for example, some find it useful to write sentences to complete phrases such as the following:

  • I think I’m going to argue that…
  • The thing I find most interesting about this topic is…
  • The most surprising discovery in my library research was…
  • The thing I find hard to believe about what I’ve read is…

 For more such phrases and other starting techniques, see Starting Techniques under Resources.

Should I start with complete sentences or bullet points?

Some find listing bullet points an excellent way to begin writing. However, sentences are the fundamental elements of essay writing, and since you must create them eventually no matter how you proceed, it makes sense to begin writing full sentences as early as possible in the process.