Getting started

by Shana Thomas
(Tampa, Fl)

I feel like I get writer's block when I think about writing a paper. How can I get past this?

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Aug 17, 2021
Student writer's block
by: Audrey

Shana, I suppose that you are a student writing papers. I also suppose that you have some direction from the instructor. If this is the case, the first thing to think about is what the instructor asks for. This might be a topic (pets, taxes, climate change) or a technical aspect of writing (developing an argument, giving examples, flow from paragraph to paragraph) or a combination of topic and technique.

The next thing I do is called a writing web. I put the topic in the middle of a piece of paper, and I begin collecting my thoughts about the topic. I write each idea on the paper, putting ideas that seem to relate to each other closer together on the page. I circle each idea and draw lines connecting those ideas that seem to me to be connected.

If I am expected to do some research, I do that after I have my own ideas on the Web. There are many ways to collect information, and I'll let you explore that either with your instructors or on your own.

Once I have my own ideas and have researched the ideas of others, I think about how I want to organize my thoughts. Here are some typical ways papers are organized:
Pros and cons
Step by step
Compare and contrast
Thesis, antithesis, and synthesis

I try to have a brief story or example to illustrate a point.

I make sure my beginning, middle, and end are clearly related to each other.

By this time, my writer's block is usually in my rear-view mirror.

This, of course, is not the only way to conquer writer's block when writing a paper, but I hope it helps you move forward.

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