November 22, 2022
Think about the last essay you wrote. Did you stare at the blank page in front of you, straining your brain? Or, has there ever been a time in your life when it feels impossible to write—the words just won’t come? This experience is called “writer’s block,” and it happens to everyone. Here is some advice to spark your creativity.
1. Try freewriting
Freewriting is just what it sounds like: writing freely. Set a timer for five minutes and write nonstop. Write down what you know about the topic, what you want to know, what you are worried about — even what is distracting you. After the time is up, go back and sort out your thoughts. You might find some great ideas.
2. Create an outline
Sometimes we know what to say, but we don’t know where to start. In this case, try outlining! An outline is a simplified version of an essay, usually written as a list of short sentences.
You might start by listing everything you want to say in your essay. Then put that list in a logical order. What needs to go at the beginning of the essay and what needs to go at the end? Once you have a plan, expand your outline into full paragraphs.
3. Talk it over
Bounce ideas off a friend. Ask a family member for topics. Give a verbal summary of your ideas to anyone who will listen. Thinking aloud helps us develop old ideas and discover new ones.
If you want to brainstorm with a fellow student, try reaching out to a classmate or scheduling an appointment with a tutor at the BYU-Idaho Online Writing Center. The Online Writing Center also has some excellent resources about the writing process.
4. Walk away
Instead of sitting at your desk for hours, willing inspiration to come, try walking away for a while. You could literally go for a walk, or clean the house, or switch to a different homework assignment. If you have enough time, try sleeping on it. Sometimes we just need to take a break. It’s especially great to walk away after you have finished a rough draft, so you can look at your ideas with fresh eyes.
Prophets have counseled us to seek revelation. We can practice this when we are stuck on writing assignments, too. You might also seek God’s help to find peace, clarity, perseverance, hope — whatever you need to start writing. Heavenly Father will help you succeed on your academic journey if you put in the work.
Most importantly, don’t give up! Writer’s block happens to all of us, and the only solution is to keep trying. Don’t expect perfection from a first draft, and don’t worry about what others will think of your writing. Each time you try your best, you become a better writer.
What encourages you when an assignment seems difficult? Leave your comments below!