Writing is a process, not a singular event. It is rarely an automatic occurrence, and requires diligence, creativity, and practice. If you feel lost in the process of research, take a look at our strategies for critical reading and note taking. If you are stuck, here are tips for helping you put words onto the page.
Sometimes the blank pages in front of you can be incredibly intimidating—especially if you know that you are required to fill 25 of them. Rather than tackling the entire paper in one sitting, set goals for yourself. Setting goals will help you to work at a reasonable pace and form the paper in increments and pieces. Set time goals, such as these:
Hold yourself accountable to your goals.
Bounce ideas off classmates, friends, or family members. Ask general questions to people who are familiar with your topic. What seems important to them? What background, terms, or other ideas will they need to know in order to understand your message? Do they disagree with your argument or the points you make? If so, why?
Summarize your own work. In the margins of your paper (or using comment bubbles), write a one-sentence summary of the purpose of each paragraph. Review your summaries to get a clearer idea of your direction, the overall flow of the paper, and how far you still need to go.
Take another look. Ask yourself a few questions: Is this information necessary? Does it add to my argument? What message am I trying to convey? Are these ideas contributing to that message? What ideas could I be missing? When in doubt, read more on your topic—it is never a bad idea to go back to your sources and expand your knowledge when you are trying to work your way out of writer’s block.