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Instructor Blog: Overcoming Writer’s Block in the Classroom

You’ve researched, read the directions, set yourself up with a coffee in a nice, quiet place. Time to create a paper. Nothing happens.  Your open Word document stares at you, smirking.  Now what? How do you beat writer’s block? Below are some strategies.

Multitasking is the Enemy

Many people think they work better listening to music, and the temptation to check in on social media or respond to texts can be irresistible. This article has great insights about how inefficient multi-tasking is and how to be more focused: http://blog.strideapp.com/2014/05/how-to-have-laser-focus-without-caffeine/

Smarthinking

Campus-based students have learning centers, and online students have access to the Smarthinking tutorial. This is an excellent way to get extra guidance. This does take time, so it’s great motivation to begin assignments early.

Mix it Up

If you’re stuck on the introduction, skip it. Start with just a thesis then work on your main points. It may be easier to write the introduction last.  As an English instructor, I recommend beginning with sources, in-text citation and the reference page. This ensures that you do not forget, and can also help you see your support more clearly.

Run!

Maybe that’s not your thing. But when you get stuck, step away from the computer and do something else. Exercise is great for the brain.  Doing another activity allows your mind to work on what you’re stuck on while engaged in something else. Go for a walk, do some laundry, and try to work through what you are stuck on.

Talk to a Friend

If possible, explain to a friend the assignment and what you are stuck on. Talk through what the assignment needs to accomplish (argue, explain, etc). This may help you identify what you are struggling with. Perhaps your research is not strong enough, or perhaps you need a better grasp of a course concept.

Learn from your Mistakes

If it’s 11:30 on Saturday night, it will be too late to create a quality paper. Remember all of the end of session reflections when you said you would start projects earlier? How can you ensure that this happens?  If Saturday is a difficult day to get assignments done, aim to complete an assignment on Friday. This allows an extra cushion for final polishing and checking your work against the rubric. Beginning an assignment early in the week allows more time for asking instructor questions.

Take it to the Workplace!

These strategies will not only help you finish assignments, they are great strategies for the workplace. Learning how to solve problems and seek guidance will help you succeed in any career.

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