What does it really mean to be boring? We can all point to a moment that was boring. And we’re quick to recognize a new one when it presents itself, but what are the criteria for something to fall into that category?
When I worked as a cashier at a grocery store as a teen, there was a customer who, when I asked if he wanted his milk in a bag, would always reply, “No, you can just leave it in the carton.” Funny the first time. Boring after the fifth time.
So repetitiveness and a lack of creativity are boring.
When I was a middle schooler, the gym teacher was incredibly passionate about sports, and it showed when he taught.
He also, however, was required to teach health class, which he was less passionate about. It wasn’t a subject he loved, and it showed. He was bored, so we were too.
So bored people are boring.
It’s also a matter of opinion, of course. One of my roommates in college was in culinary school, so he was really into cooking shows. My other roommate was a film major who was into foreign language films. When one had control of the remote, the other was bored.
So matching content with the wrong audience leads to boredom.
When it comes to writing essays, no one strives to be boring, but writing an interesting essay can be difficult.
So let’s explore some awesome secrets for choosing more interesting essay topics.
1. Avoid the Common
It’s why Cormac McCarthy is allowed to use punctuation like my nephew uses napkins. Sparingly.
So if you want to choose more interesting essay topics than those of your counterparts, you must first be aware of the most common essay topics. Then, of course, avoid them.
2. Read Essays
They say if you want to write a novel, you have to read a lot of novels. If you want to write a screenplay, you must first read a lot of screenplays.
Why would essays be any different?
By reading numerous essays, you will get a strong sense of what works and what doesn’t. Moreover, you’ll start to see what makes for interesting essay topics and what doesn’t.
Reading essays will also help you to avoid some of the most common topics (See #1).
Check out our essay database for a wealth of example essays to read.
3. Follow Your Interests
I mention this one a lot when I give essay writing advice, but it’s incredibly important. You’re going to enjoy your life a lot more if you’re writing an essay about something that interests you.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to research a boring topic for hours. It’s not healthy.
It might sound like a good idea to choose a common topic so it will be easy to find resources, but you can’t simulate motivation. Although a more obscure topic might take more “work,” it won’t feel like work if you’re genuinely interested in the subject matter.
We’re talking about choosing more interesting essays topics. That starts by thinking about your personal interests and curiosities. Push yourself to explore these areas, and you might be surprised what you discover.
You might also be surprised by how much that interest and enthusiasm shows in your essay.
4. Tap Into Old Essays
There are many times in the process of researching and writing an essay that you’ll happen upon a piece of information that’s interesting but doesn’t fit into the paper you’re writing at the moment.
My advice is two-fold.
First, I suggest that, every time you encounter a moment such as this, you make a note of it and file it away. For instance, I have a note-taking app in which I store every bright idea or interesting tidbit I come across.
Second, when it comes time to write a new essay, take a look through your notes for points of interest that may work as topics. Even if it’s related to another essay you have written, there’s nothing wrong with choosing it as long as you’re approaching it from a new angle.
5. Know Your Reader
What is interesting? What does it mean for something to be interesting? Who gets to decide?
It’s all a matter of opinion and perception. Eye-of-the-beholder stuff, right?
So with this in mind, it’s important to understand that it’s your reader—and your reader only—who will decide if your essay is “interesting.” So it’s important to have a sense of your reader’s interests when choosing a topic.
Caveat: I don’t think the most important criteria for choosing a topic is following your professor’s interests. It’s much more important that you choose a topic that stimulates your own interests and creative drive (See #2).
However, if your goal is to make the essay “more interesting” in a general sense, then it needs to be a subject of interest to more than just the person in the mirror.
6. Consider Current Events
What are people talking about right now? With social media everywhere, it has never been easier to put your finger on the pulse of the people.
Tap into the zeitgeist, and consider topics that are currently rousing discussion around the world. These topics are inherently more interesting essay topics because they address issues that are already on the minds of thinking people.
If your topic is something that your readers have already been pondering on their own, they will be more interested in reading your opinion on the matter.
7. Test the Waters
There are times when you come up with an idea, whether it’s for an invention or a new short story, and it seems perfect. There’s a beam of light that shoots from the sky into your eyes at the moment of inception, and you can’t wait to tell someone.
So you run to a good friend and tell him to sit down because he is about to be blown away. You start excitedly spewing your idea out into the world, and then something curious happens.
As you hear the words aloud, the idea suddenly doesn’t sound quite as profound as it did in your inner dialogue. The look on your friend’s face confirms your fears: the idea is a bust.
Anyone who has been through this knows the feeling and has learned a valuable lesson: ideas aren’t always as good when they become reality.
For this reason, I encourage you to run your topic ideas by some trusted friends, send them off to a talented editor, or schedule a time to discuss your topic ideas with your professor.
Review of How to Choose Interesting Essay Topics
So in our attempts to avoid boredom, both in ourselves and our readers, we have found some ways to avoid common, repetitive topics and choose those that pique our own interests, which will show in our essay.
There’s a few important things to remember when you’re aiming for interesting essay topics:
- Be aware of the topics that have been done before and of those that are currently enthralling the public.
- Know your reader—but more importantly, know yourself and your own interests.
- Have someone who will listen to your ideas, whether that’s your professor or a friend.
Need to jumpstart your thinking? Start by getting ideas you can evolve from these essay topics:
- 20 Fascinating and Unusual Descriptive Essay Topics
- 22 Cause and Effect Essay Topics to Write an Effective Essay
- 17 Expository Essay Topics for an Outstanding Paper
- 15 Good Persuasive Essay Topics to Start Your Essay Right
And then there’s compare and contrast essay topics, argumentative essay topics, and some more persuasive essay topics. There’s also informative essay topics, reflective essay topics, and process essay topics.
And if you find interesting essay topics and think they’re way too broad, try narrowing them down a bit.
And finally, keep in mind that you can submit your essay to Kibin’s editors at any point in the writing process, so feel free to send over a topic proposal or abstract. We’d be happy to take a look and send you detailed advice.
As always, have fun!