I find getting the words down on paper very difficult

PRIORITY ACTION 2: begin the essay at the easiest point

For many writers, beginning at the start is not always the easiest way to begin a piece of writing. Instead, as you work on free writing, write down any ideas or points about the essay as they occur to you. Once you have some ideas about the essay, choose as your starting point one of the ideas that you find easiest to explain. Once you have written what you think you want to say about this point, refer to your essay plan and select another point that you feel confident writing about. Continue in this way until you have covered all the points on your plan. A useful tip if you are drafting by hand is to write on every other line so there is plenty of space for making changes in the later stages of review. For the points you find difficult to write about, try verbalising your thinking prior to writing.


Difficulties in beginning writing can be caused by a number of factors such as anxiety about producing poor work, a lack of confidence in one's own abilities or not knowing how to start. Even professional writers have some experience of this, hence the well known term 'writer's block'. It is worth remembering that this is not an uncommon problem: it can affect the most able of writers. One strategy to overcome writer's block is free writing. This is a technique where the focus is not on what you write, it is on putting something down on paper regardless of content.

PRIORITY ACTION 1: use free writing to break the block

The aim of free writing is to move from a blank page to some form of writing - even if it isn't related to the task in hand. The technique works by getting you to put some words on paper to release the stress of beginning the writing process. For example, you could begin to write about why you chose that particular essay question, what you find interesting about the topic or what you find difficult about the essay question. The aim is to just get you over the barrier of beginning to put words down on paper. Write as much as you can about these or any other topics that come to mind until you have an idea of something that you can write that relates to your essay. The important point to bear in mind here is that you can begin writing any part of the essay - it doesn't have to be at the beginning, so start with any points that occur to you.

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