I am at the beginning of the research portion of my PhD program and as is standard in this department, I am to begin my research by writing a small literature review of some relevant papers in my field, chosen by me and approved by my advisor. This includes replicating and tweaking/improving the experiments ( which boils down to code ) in the chosen papers along with discussion in the results comparing mine to the original papers, etc. Note that this paper is not directly to be published; it is part of my qualifying exam. I am given about a month of time to do this (along with other research related things I must do...).
When sitting down to write, I am constantly blocked by the fear that the work I am doing is not quite what my advisor wants. My advisor casts a wider net with his research interests than most professors I have seen, so his students seem to do projects in various areas within engineering. That said, the research summary I am doing is largely on clustering in machine learning, and I fear my advisor has little interest in this topic, or worse.... that I am, in a sense, not doing what I'm supposed to be doing?
If I were doing this very same research or a class, a clustering report in machine learning, I feel I would have no problem at all just working contently and developing my ideas and trying to come up with as interesting an experiment as I could and generally adapting to wherever the project took me and doing what needed to be done to finish it, but the game is changed since I feel I am working on this problem for someone rather than just for myself. Additionally, in my undergraduate research, I was given very straightforward instructions so there was no ability for me to choose papers on my own ( e.g., "Replicate the results in this paper", "Write an abstract mentioning X, Y, and Z" ). The freedom I'm given in this research review experience is somewhat confusing, I suppose.
Is this concern a normal feeling? What do I think/do about it? The reason I ask is that i precisely am afraid to be working on the wrong thing, and I am frozen in my writing and am struggling dearly. It is an incredibly nagging feeling to think that that my report isn't focused correctly. For the purpose of this literature review, should I just follow where the research takes me or should I change the focus of it and just try to please my advisor?
To be clear, my question is of how to balance being independent and satisfying my supervisor?