Crushing Topic Indecision

A story

My 5th grader has an explorer fair coming up. His part of the fair is writing a report on an explorer, dressing up like him/her, and presenting to apathetic parents (aren’t you glad you’re not in 5th grade.)

When my son came home with the project guidelines it was kvetches all around. Totally standard, I know. But besides the usual “I hate this,” and “This is stupid,” he was also saying “It’s so hard! I don’t know who to choose!”

Besides the rubric, the school had given the boys at least five pages with different explorers listed and a one-line description of what they accomplished. My son was kinda right, it was overwhelming to choose just one, they were all SO COOL.

After putting up with another round of kvetching and acquiescing to an additional snack (before supper no less) I put my foot down and said,

“Enough, we’re choosing!” And I made my son put a star next to names he was considering, but he had to do it quickly, no deliberating, just gut. He went through the pages and starred five names.

“Ok, look at the names you chose, we’ll do a quick Google search on them and narrow it down.”

He did it, we googled and then he narrowed it to one.

The second he chose a name, I snatched the papers from his grip.

“Settled,” I said. “Let’s get to work.

And we did.


He still hates the project, but I think it’s mostly on principle. He’s learning a ton about Helen Thayer (fascinating woman) and the assignment is a go, running fairly smoothly.


We often spend way too much trying to decide what to write.

Is the topic the “right one”?

Is it “worthy”, “publishable”, “masterpiece potential”, or a dreaded “time sink”.

And you know what usually happens. I don’t have to tell you, you know all too well.

You don’t decide and you don’t write.

Take it from my son.

Narrow it down,

Do a little research,

Pick one --quickly.

Don’t let yourself overthink it

And WRITE ✍.

That’s half the battle right there.

You’re welcome.

Will you take my advice? Let me know in the comments what writing decisions you've made.

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