I just had to use a very important strategy, and I want to take a moment to share it with you:
If you have a project that seems so complicated that you feel overwhelmed, try this strategy. Just do one thing. Just break off one piece of the assignment and do it. I had to write something recently for some guy's website, and it was about a business I do not know much about (real estate). How could I write a whole website for someone about a business I do not know very well?
I surprise myself every time, because if I just find one little piece of it that I can do the rest falls into place.
I wrote a section about "social responsibility," and I was able to come up with something cool to say. It gave me an idea about how to write the "about us" section. After I had written that, I thought of a new strategy that I suggested to the guy, and he thought it was a good idea. I used that strategy as my starting point to write the main page, and suddenly the site is almost completed.
So, when you have to write a 15 page research paper and you do not know where to begin, remind yourself that this is a process of exploration. If you are going to explore a mansion, you cannot expect to see it all at once. So, do not look at your assignment instructions all it once.
Just find one article to read, and write about that article as a way of getting started. Do that for another relevant article, and you will be well on your way. Don't feel overwhelmed, because it will all become clear once you get started.
And once you get started, complete it in any way you can. Whatever you can do right now is good enough. You'll keep getting better and better.
Thanks for sharing, Kevin! Indeed, this is a good strategy for getting start. I had writing assignments that I didn't know what to write about - and I think I will keep encountering such topics in my life. They gave me headaches. Then my dad told me "just to write down the first thing that came up to your mind and don't care about if it's good". So I took his advice, and wrote down whatever came up to my mind. Although at first the structure looked weak, and the paragraphs, sentences, phrases needed to be revised and re-organized, but after some corrections and revisions, the essay read well and most importantly, the assignment was completed without causing too much pain in head. ;)