How do you write a paper, when the topic is yourself? How do you research that kind of thing?

You have a full library of information available to you on your assigned subject: You are the first and foremost resource for your research. Sorting through the many facets of your unique self might seem overwhelming, though. The best way to get started is to make a simple list.

First, jot down some general areas, such as these:

  • Hobbies and interests —
  • School activities —
  • Family life —
  • Favorite vacation —
  • Dream job —

Pick broad topics in which you have interest and experience. Now write down one or several thoughts next to each point. You may end up with something that looks like this:

  • Hobbies and interests — Baldur's Gate, comedy tv, political buttons, Web sites about reptiles
  • School activities — volleyball, biology club, speech team
  • Family life — 2 little brothers who are always in my room
  • Favorite vacation — Florida, or anywhere on the beach
  • Dream job — $$$$$

Your assignment might require you to focus on one aspect of your daily life, or it may ask you to relate personal characteristics to a particular problem-solving situation. Your writing project might even call for an autobiographical approach. In any case, list-making can help you focus and organize your thoughts, just as creating an outline can ease you through the actual writing process.

If you want a multi-dimensional view of your subject, make a list that includes lines for likes and dislikes; personality traits; hopes and aspirations, and the little "quirks" that make you you. Do the same exercise: Fill in a few thoughts for each item. Then, pass copies of the list to your friends and family and let them fill in the blanks. You're likely to develop a whole new view — one worth exploring as you prepare to write about the only you in the world!