Many students struggle with starting to write. They open a Word document on their computer and try to write the first sentence of their introduction expecting that to lead to the next and the next until the last sentence of their conclusion. The writing process is much more complex than that. Here are some strategies that you may want to try the next time you sit down to start writing. There is also a video available in the ACE D2L Lounge.
Develop a thesis and an outline:
Many students distrust outlines, yet an outline can be your best friend when trying to start writing. An outline is simply a list of your topic sentences with a sentence at the top that is supported by all the topic sentences. Try to generate a list of topic sentences; you may be surprised how helpful it is!
Start in the middle of the paper:
Often students aren't sure what they want to write exactly, and that makes writing an outline or thesis statement essentially impossible. However, if you're clear on one topic that you want to write, try to start by writing the paragraph about that one idea. Then at least you have a paragraph you can fit into the paper later on.
Temporarily lower your standards:
Students often get stuck trying to write perfect sentences, paragraphs, and thesis statements in their first draft. Even professional writers aren't able to do this. EVERYONE WRITES DRAFTS. Expect that bad writing will come before good writing. To try to skip over bad writing only wastes time and holds you back. Just write the bad stuff and get it over with!
Freewriting involves setting a timer at 20 minutes and then forcing yourself to write continuously until the time runs out - no exceptions. It doesn't matter what you write. Just write whatever comes to mind, even if it's sentences like "This is crazy, how can this freewriting help?" If forced to write, your thesis may appear on your computer screen seemingly by magic. Write about any ideas, no matter how unrelated to the assignment they may seem. By writing them down, your mind becomes free to think about ideas that are related.
Many students try to write with music or tv on in the background. Try removing these distractions and allowing your brain to focus on one task: writing.