Beating Writer’s Block Tips: Alternate Starting Points

Welcome to February and welcome back to our series on beating writer’s block. Last week was about engaging with your class materials (articles, textbooks, videos, etc.) and giving yourself time to process new information. This week we’ll look at another possible stumbling block you may be encountering.

Now that you’ve consumed the content and given yourself time to process, this time when you sit down you produce something but after an hour it is only an elaborately drawn “The” at the top of your page. What gives? You may be facing a second hurdle: feeling trapped by the way you think a paper “should” be written.  Sometimes you may feel obligated to follow a linear construction for your paper – starting with an intro and finishing with a conclusion. I’ve got great news for you! You don’t have to start at the beginning! If you’ve caught on to a good idea, follow it to its fulfillment, even if you know it is not the first concept you will introduce in your piece. Write down everything that comes to mind. Writing down what you know will set the foundation for you to engage with the parts of an assignment that you may be struggling with. If you’ve encountered a composition course, you may have heard a professor say that “writing is a process,” which is to say that you have options in how you approach an assignment and these approaches will not be the same for every piece you create. Finding an alternate starting point, such as creating an outline, storyboard, or even just a keywords list with knowledge you want to include can engage your mind with a new infrastructure to help you move past a writing approach that isn’t working for you. 

The Millersville’s Writing Center ( ) can help you with this and more. Tune in next week as we continue this series and best of luck with your upcoming fourth week of class!