Writer’s block is not uncommon when students are stressed and worried about writing that essay. Everyone has a blank stare at the empty lines on the paper or the blank computer screen once in a while, but how can they get past it and get the essay completed? There are a few things that help students clear their minds therefore allowing their creative juices to flow.
Narrow or Broaden the Topic
One of the most common „blocking“ factors is a problem with the topic itself. For example, a person writing about crime in America may have difficulty knowing where to start. Should it be white collar crime or maybe how crime affects the lives of victims? On the other hand a topic that is too narrow may leave the writer struggling for ideas, words and/or direction. A good way to help alleviate this problem is to briefly outline the essay. It doesn’t have to be formatted, in fact a napkin will work fine, but this will help distinguish the direction of the essay.
Take a Break
The longer that you stare at a blank piece of paper the „blanker“ it becomes. Not really, but it does increase stress and this makes creativity nearly impossible. If you are having trouble, take a quick break. If that is not possible because it is a testing facility, try this – it works:
Take a deep breath holding the forefinger and thumb together. Close your eyes and take deep breaths in and out holding them. Exhale slowly and let your mind take you to a calm place, the beach, a water fall, mountains or wherever you like. Now look around and feel the air on your skin, smell the ocean or crisp clean air, hear the sea gulls and immerse yourself into the environment where you are. Inhale – exhale focusing on your breathing, concentrate on the energy building between your fore finger and thumb. The pressure is increasing and stress is flowing from the shoulders down to the contact of your fingers, now as you exhale release the stress allowing it to leave the body. Open your eyes and feel refreshed. This is guaranteed to help you focus; removing any limitations holding you back.
By taking a short break you can clear your mind and get your perspective back to complete your essay.
Feed the Mind
When most students are working on an essay they wait until the very last-minute therefore having very little time to complete their assignment. In many cases the student has not had dinner, leaving them hungry, tired and frustrated. This is not a good situation and can hamper writing abilities greatly. It is a good idea to ensure a good meal and plenty of rest before the writer begins the project. Many students have found that by keeping healthy snacks, such as crackers, fruits or vegetables handy it greatly increases their productivity. For one, it takes their mind off the stress of writing an essay and secondly it gives the brain and body power to think. Many do not realize the importance of a balanced meal or the detriment of any empty stomach. It does make a difference and this can be seen with students sitting in a desk, stomach rumbling and the paper blank. Snacks that are high in salt, sugars or other fatty foods are not recommended because they can actually inhibit learning and their cognitive processes.
Set Realistic Deadlines
Another common problem that causes students to have trouble writing their essays is the fact that they do not set realistic deadlines. Three hours is not an acceptable time to write any kind of essay, much less a three or four page paper. The best way to eliminate this problem is to ensure that there is enough time to properly research, and outline before getting started. In fact it may be that the student should break the assignment into a couple of sessions, to reduce fatigue, and boredom that often comes with homework. Set goals for the completion of the paper as this will not only help you stay on track, but also reduce the level of frustration. A good deadline may be one-page and the remainder of the paper over the next couple of days. That there is no right or wrong answer on deadlines, however scheduling is imperative to success.
Examine Underlying Issues/Problems
If writer’s block continues it may be that the student has something else on their mind that is troubling them. It is important is to examine the root of the problem in order to correct it and continue on with the paper. In many cases the student may be aware of the issue that is causing the problem, but sometimes they are at a loss for the cause. Some of the more common causes are not getting enough sleep, worried, anxiety or any other form of stress that preoccupies the students mind.
By following these few steps it will make writing the paper a bit easier. Writing an essay is not the most fun thing to do, however it is a necessary evil to make it through college.
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