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Seven Writing Struggles and Strategies to Overcome Writer's Block

  1. Are you having issues with the topic?

    • Take control of your topic. Pick a topic that interests you because you will be more committed to learning and writing about it than about a topic that should be easy to write.

    • If you do not have control of the topic, discuss with the professor ways you may be able to personalize the assignment while still following the requirements.

  2. Are you having difficulty getting your assignment started?

    • Try different brainstorming or freewriting strategies to begin thinking about your topic.

    • Start writing where you feel most comfortable. It can be difficult to begin by writing an introduction; try starting with the body paragraph.

  3. Are you confused about the assignment?

    • Get clarification on your assignment instructions from your professor or teaching assistant, or book a tutoring session with the Student Learning Centre.

    • Be familiar with the type of writing required—every discipline has different requirements for assignments. If this type of writing is new to you, read other types of papers in that discipline using the Library website to become aware of the expectations and flow.

  4. Are you overwhelmed with the information on your topic?

    • Narrow your topic, as sometimes it is too broad for your assignment, so you have too much information to cover.

    • By making your topic more specific, you can highlight the information that is most important to cover.

  5. Are you unsure of how you sound?

    • Create drafts of your assignment. It is hard to write and ensure you sound academic when you first write.

    • Your first draft should use simple language that is clear and concise. In later drafts, revise to include the academic tone and language.

  6. Are you easily distracted and lacking motivation?

    • Downloading productivity apps can help limit distractions. Try writing your assignment using pen and paper, as oftentimes, technology and the internet can be contributing factors to losing focus. Try writing your assignment with pen and paper instead.

    • Write no matter your mood. If you stop writing when you are unmotivated, it will be harder to progress. You do not need to make huge steps in your assignment, but it will help you get out of your writing rut. 

  7. Are you feeling stressed?

    • Get a planner, make a schedule and block your time. With a schedule, you can help reduce your stress of juggling personal, social and other commitments.

    • Take breaks from your work to relax, sleep and eat.

Remember that no matter what you are struggling with, there are ways to get help. Consider booking a session with a Writing Specialist or Peer Writing Tutor to for guidance. There are also appointments available with our Academic Study Skills Co-ordinator to help you better manage your time.

To help support you, we have consolidated this information into a handy tip sheet of strategies to overcome writer's block. 

Download and save the tip sheet