There are two words that, when put together, strikes fear into the hearts of students and writers everywhere.
Just writing that makes me nervous.
We all suffer from it sometimes though, whether we’re writing a story, poetry or even just an essay for one of our classes. The feeling of sitting at your computer at 3 a.m. with only a heading and maybe a title on the page when your paper is due in six hours is not the greatest, and I think we can all agree on that.
But I have good news. There is a cure!
The cure for writer’s block is to do what you haven’t been able to do. You need to write. This may just sound silly, but it’s true.
As an English major I have several essays assigned a week, and most of the time I don’t have any idea of what I’m going to write until I sit down and start writing. I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way that have helped me with writer’s block, and hopefully they can help you too.
When you get stuck, write.
It’s as straightforward as it sounds. If you’re writing an essay and you have been given a prompt to use, read it a few times and then write anything down that comes to mind.
Just brainstorm! Even the most ridiculous thoughts (although they should be on topic) can sometimes turn into inspiration. Just write whatever you can, and when you’re done you may be able to find a theme amongst your thoughts. Just like that, you have a topic to write about.
Don’t write in order.
Say you just thought of a really great third paragraph … but you still haven’t written the first one. Who cares? You don’t need to write everything in order. Skip ahead and write your third paragraph first, then go back. Maybe while you’re writing, you’ll think of an idea for another part of the paper.
Look somewhere else.
Of course, there will also be plenty of times you’re going to struggle through an entire essay. If you’re really stuck, you can always look for an article on the Internet that is related to what you’re writing, and try to get an idea from that. There will almost always be someone else who has written about the same thing you’re writing about, so don’t be afraid to form your own opinion or idea off of someone else’s work.
However, there is a difference between formulating an idea from someone’s work and plagiarizing their work. Do not plagiarize, for karma will get you in the end.
Most of you probably know to do these things, but hey, we were all probably shocked by the harsh grades we received on our first essays as freshmen. Essays in high school are not essays in college, and that’s a tough lesson to learn.
So, when afflicted with the terrible disease that is writer’s block, just remember to write your way through it, and try not to panic.
Michelle Geltner is a sophomore English major from Naperville. She is the Scout features reporter.
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