Friday, October 5, 2007
Coping With Writing Anxiety
Has an assignment got you down? Is staring at a blank page making your palms sweaty? Sounds like you’re feeling a little anxious about writing. It happens to everyone. There are many different sources of writing anxiety, so no single solution will work every time. Below are some possibilities; keep trying until you find one that works for you. You’ll probably invent a few of your own along the way.
• To avoid last-minute panic, get started well before the due date.
• Make sure you understand the assignment; read through it carefully. Go to your professor’s office hours or the Writing Center and talk it through. Jot down notes as you talk for twenty minutes. The other person can ask you questions if you get stuck.
• Find a way to make the assignment more interesting for yourself—how can you personalize it and make it matter to you?
• Create your ideal writing environment. Maybe it’s listening to music in your room first thing in the morning, or sitting on a couch in a coffee shop late at night . . . whatever scenario gets your ideas flowing and your pen moving.
• Try doing some preliminary work, such as freewriting, listing, or clustering. (If you haven't tried these strategies before, come to the Writing Center to learn more about them.)
• Break the assignment into steps, and tackle one step at a time.
• Get rid of the blank page by writing something—anything. Try typing the description of the assignment at the top of the page. There! Now the page isn’t blank any more. Plus, this is a useful way to keep yourself on track; as you write, you can easily glance back at the assignment.
• Think of this draft as a practice run. Just write. Don’t worry about structure, spelling, etc. You can revise later.
• Begin in the middle. Deal with the introduction and conclusion after you’ve written the body of the paper.
• Stretch. Take deep breaths. Drink lots of water.
• Take frequent breaks. Walk into another room and do a different task for a few minutes. Just remember to come back to the paper.