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Just Write It!

In working with students, I often hear them cry, "But I don't know what to write!" Every time, I say the same thing: Just start getting some words on paper. You'll go back later and clean it up, improve it, change it completely--or even delete it--but for now, just start writing words.


I once received the following email from a high school student panicking about her term paper:

I really need some help on my paper! I'm at a blocked point right now. I don't really know what to write--like, nothing's coming. I only have a little bit written, but I don't know what to do now. I don't know how I'm gonna be able to get 12-20 pages down, let alone finish before Wednesday. Please help!


Here was my response to this dear young woman:

Okay... take a deep breath. You are going to get through this! I've had writers' block before, and the best way to get through it is to just start writing, even if it's just very simple, elementary sentences, such as: "Stem cell research on fetal tissue is bad. I don't think they should do that. I read that...." Once you get going, you may be surprised at what flows out of you! Don't censor yourself or worry at this point about style or spelling or sentence structure or dress-ups or MLA format or anything else other than getting some basic words on paper. Think about your thoughts and feelings about your topic, and then just start writing. After you get everything on paper you can think of about Topic A, you should probably take a big break and eat some chocolate! Then you just have to repeat the process for Topic B and Topic C. Remember: Don't worry about style or anything else other than getting words on paper.  Once you have paragraphs written for Topics A, B, and C, you'll be ready to write transitions between them, and then you'll be ready to write your introduction and conclusion. Once you have something down on paper, then you can start working with it, correcting and revising it (spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, sentence structure, etc.), as well as adding to it (dress-ups, sentence openers, quotes, etc.). Don't worry about length right now. Just write as much as you can about your topic and include what research you have. If you follow these instructions, you'll have something to turn into me on Wednesday. Just do your best, and hand in what you have completed. (It's not going to get any easier if you put it off or take more time!)  You can do it! You have so much passion inside yourself to share with the world, and I believe in you!


This advice works for adults as well as students, in school, business, or personal life. Just start writing...and then congratulate yourself--you have begun.





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