Figuring out where to start a writing project has always been difficult for me. I found this technique on dailywritingtips.com and after many semesters of writing courses, I’ve actually never heard of it before. It’s called “Cubing” and the idea is that you look at a subject from 6 different angles (like a cube has 6 sides!).
Here’s the excerpt from the website:
In this strategy, a topic or idea is examined from six distinct viewpoints — hence the name. Describe the topic (what is it?), compare it (what is it like or unlike?), associate it (what does it make you think of?), analyze it (what constituent parts is it made of?), apply it (how can it be used?), and argue for and/or against it (how can you support or oppose it?).
Cubing was developed as a critical-thinking exercise to help students express their thoughts in opinion essays, but it can be adapted for general nonfiction writing, though it is of limited value for fiction.
A similar technique is to explore three perspectives: The first is to describe the topic and its features, its constituent parts, and its challenges, and to compare and contrast it with other topics. The second is to trace the history of the topic and the influences on it throughout that history, and the topic’s evolution. The third is to map the topic to similar contemporary topics as well as to its influences, and to topics that it influences.
Here’s the link for some other strategies from dailywritingtips.com: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/5-brainstorming-strategies-for-writers/