When you sit down to start writing an essay do you stare at a blank page for ages thinking what to write? Well, you’re not alone – this happens to students, journalists and academics. In fact all writers, whether they are experts or beginners, have periods of what we call ‘writer’s block’.

Why do people get writer’s block? Well, it could be for many reasons such as lack of inspiration, the time of the day, tiredness etc. For students writing essays, it is often because they want to write perfectly from the beginning. However, this is almost impossible for even the most expert writers because writing is a process which involves a lot of revisions, editing and rewriting.

So how do you stop writer’s block? Well, the most important thing to do is to start getting your ideas out of your head. At this stage it doesn’t matter what you write as you will have plenty of time for rewriting and redrafting as you go through the essay writing process.

We are going to look at 4 ways to get started:

1. Free writing. This is where you write anything that comes into your head which is connected to the topic.

Why is it useful? It helps you get your ideas out on paper where they can be organised and rewritten. It helps you see where you have good ideas and where you have gaps in your information. It helps you see whether you can answer the question or just write about the topic. This is useful for focusing your research more.

2. Audio free writing. This is the same as number 1 except you say your ideas and record them rather than writing them.

Why is it useful? For some people speaking and listening are easier than writing and reading. Listening to ideas can generate more ideas or new ways of thinking which you can write down later.

3. Mind mapping. This is where you write your ideas down like this:

Source: http://www.jcu.edu.au/tldinfo/learningskills/mindmap/images/sampleemm.gif

Why is it useful? It allows you to think about the order of your ideas and how they relate to the question. It also helps you see where you may have gaps in your knowledge.

4. Discussion. This means getting a group of people together to discuss the essay and making notes or recording the conversation.

Why is it useful? Because everyone can contribute and share ideas so it helps you think of more ideas and process that information. After the discussion you can analyse the ideas and think about which are relevant for your essay and how you want to organise them.

So, don’t put off the essay because of writer’s block – just get started.



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