How to Overcome Writer's Block: Essays and Research Papers

Yes, I have writer's block. Help! 

How to Overcome Writer's Block: Essays or Research Papers

A friend lamented she is having writer's block. She is writing a required research paper.

This is what I replied:

"Sometimes, when I am writing a paper, it is like squeezing a lemon. Not much comes out, but what little does come, is good. I hope it happens that way for you. Just write a bit every day, it will come. Consistency is key.

To get the juices flowing:

When I was an English teacher, we did daily 10 minute free writes using fun writing prompts  in my class. Free writes are great to get the juices flowing. For example, "I love it when ....." (Everyone can write about what they love).


Take one word. Put it in a bubble. Link to it with other words in bubbles. Something might stand out. Take that and run with it.

The Gem and its Facets:

For the intro, which for me is the juiciest part, try to think about: What is it that you love about your topic? What is the jewel encapsulated? Try to write that bit first.

If it were my experience, although I detest outlines, sometimes it helps. If you like math, maybe that would work.

The juiciest sentence is your first one. It is what I call the bait; how you will catch the fish, giving your readers the tastiest bit up front. Cast your line and reel them in. Then, talk about what you will cover in your paper (the aspects/facets below). End your first paragraph with your goal (the topic sentence. (Ask yourself, what is your purpose for writing the paper?).

      I realize this next bit is not in the right place, but that is okay! Lol.)...

     Your Voice:

     Once you get past your block, another key of writing is to write in your
     own voice. Express yourself in a clear and straightforward way. This is the         best way to keep your reader engaged. As a writer, it is the best advice I
     can give you.

List the things you will cover in the paper, the facets/ aspects of whatever you are writing about. This is your body. Each facet/aspect will make a paragraph.

Then, conclude. This is the reverse of your introduction. Sort of a review of what you have done, what was gained, what is the result. I hope this helps you.


Three Times is a Charm: My First Writing Teacher

Years ago, when I took my first English composition class in junior college, I struggled. I actually dropped the class twice. The first instructor was from India and had 5 degrees. I really could not identify with him at all. The second was Yale-educated, which was very impressive, but he wanted us to read and write about Shakespeare. I was just beginning, so this was not a good fit, either. My third instructor was an elementary school principal and he knew how to teach. (As he said, "I can keep the attention of the little kids by turning the book upside down and reading aloud." This impressed me!). He let us write on topics that interested us. Finally, I had found the right English composition teacher.

My first paper was on the 3 aspects of a balanced, successful relationship. This was practical and interesting was I was in my very early twenties. I received a B. We wrote all kinds of correspondence, all practical and good for a young person to know how to do. My final paper was called, "The Torch of Knowledge." I got my first A in the course. Yay!

The professor asked me, "Does your family have enough money to send you for a PhD?" I said, "No." He said, "You'd better go to work then." Looking back, I suspect that his family did not have the money, either, and this was why he was working two teaching jobs. At the time, I just took this as a compliment, maybe the best one I'd ever received.

Darlene Michelle McPeek
Copyright May 2018
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