Great advice/quote from Clare Landrigan on Choice Literacy site about topic choice:
Some years ago at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Meeting, I heard Katie Wood Ray speak about kids and topic choice. She said, “Why does everyone get so worked up about kids writing about the same topic? I have been writing about the same topic, writing, for my entire career and no one seems to care. Why do we care when kids have passion around a topic?” When I am in classrooms, I often find that the student who is in a slump is stuck because of topic issues. Either they have been assigned a certain topic or have been told they need to find a topic different from the one they originally chose. So they get stuck and sit there, day after day, in a slump. This makes me think of my slumps and what helps motivate me. I think students need to write to become better writers. If they have an idea to write about, why not just let them write? I think my best topics typically come to me when I am writing about familiar topics. The process of writing gets you thinking about other things to write about. Sometimes you just need to get your pen moving. When we assign or restrict topics, we may be giving our students one more hurdle to get over.