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National College of Ireland


Academic Writing Skills Guide: How to Deal With Writer's Block

What causes Writer's Block?

If you are struggling with writer’s block, do not get discouraged, this can happen to anyone. Sometimes making a start on a piece of work can seem very daunting. When you are sitting in front of a blank screen or blank piece of paper, it can be difficult to know where to start. An assignment or research topic can seem so big and overwhelming that you are afraid to start and you procrastinate, thinking the task is too difficult, that you do not have the ability to do it or else you become so anxious about it that you cannot find a way to start. Sometimes, when you are experiencing writer's block, it can be because you are trying to process what you want to say and how you want to say it at the same time.

Writer’s block or writing anxiety can stem from:

  • Adjusting to a new form of writing as a first year in college after school or returning to education as a mature student
  • Working with limited time or struggling with time management
  • A general lack of confidence
  • Stress
  • A lack of understanding of the material and what is required in the assignment

How Can You Deal with Writer's Block?

Often, someone suffering from writer’s block will have a disproportionately low opinion of their own writing skills. In order to get you past this, there are a number of strategies you can try.
Try a brainstorming technique such as mindmapping, freewriting or listing. The act of writing itself can help generate ideas - just start writing anything that comes to mind Talk through what you are being asked to do with a friend, lecturer or the Library Academic Support Centre
Do a basic Google search to clarify and learn a little more about the topic Consult the material and resources featured on your Moodle page
Look over the Library Academic Support Centre's Academic Writing guides Break down your assignment into smaller sections and approach each section separately rather than focusing on the whole assignment and feeling overwhelmed
Change your writing routine - where you normally write, the time you normally write, listening/not listening to music, writing on a computer or writing on a notepad Book an appointment with the Library Academic Support Centre for help with any stage of the writing process




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