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How To Write A Research Paper �" Overcoming Writer’s Block

One of the most difficult challenges that students face when writing a dissertation is when they first sit down to begin writing, is when they encounter the dreaded “writer’s block”. This article explains what writer’s block is, and discusses three easy ways to get past writer’s block quickly and effectively when writing a research paper.

What is writer ’s block exactly, and how do you know if you are experiencing this problem?


Writer’s block has no clinical definition, but generally it is an inability to write, where the words or ideas don’t come to mind, and the writer ends up staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to begin or continue. In some cases, it is caused by anxiety and stress, and be overcome using common relaxation techniques. But more often, it is caused by a lack of preparation or lack of familiarity with the subject matter.

The first tip to overcome writer’s block is to know clearly what you intend to say in your research paper and how you intend to support your thesis. You don’t need to know the exact words yet, but the main structure of your paper should be known. If you have not yet written an outline, do so now. A writer can’t possibly begin to write without knowing the general ideas that they intend to express. If you have done your research, and have notes, review them again, and determine what the goal is for the section of the paper you are attempting to write. Once you know that, you can write your topic sentence. Writing your topic sentence should naturally lead to writing sentences that provide evidence or support for the topic sentence.

Many times writer’s block is caused by anxiety because the writer feels they have to produce eloquent prose right out of the gate. Banish that though! Write crudely if you must, but get your pen flowing or get your keyboard tapping. Don’t worry about eloquence or grammar, just get your rough ideas down on paper, and plan on polishing your prose during the revision process. No one will see your paper until you show it to them, so don’t be self-conscious about your writing skills. The goal is to get your ideas on paper any way that you can. Editing and revising will clean up any mistakes or poor sentence structure. Speak the words out loud at first if necessary, and if they sound ok to you, then start putting them down on paper.

The third way to simply overcome writer’s block is “skip around”, and write on whichever aspect or section of your paper you feel comfortable writing about. No one says that a writer has to start at the beginning of a paper and write until the paper is done. You can start at the end, middle, or anywhere you feel comfortable. If necessary, review your outline, and add additional detail and structure to it. Then pick the section where you have ideas ready, then come back later to the section that was giving you difficulty.

Any student, with the help of these three steps should be able to quickly get past writer’s block and begin to compose their paper. Getting started is half the battle, and with these three tips, getting started should come easily and comfortably.

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