Obstacles to Essay writing & How to Overcome Them

Writing, until you have been doing it awhile (and once you have been doing it often it will come much easier) often comes at the expense of a great deal of worry and effort for beginning writers. Here’s some ways I have learned as a writer to break through writer’s block, writer’s anxiety, and writer’s laziness syndrome!


Obstacle One: I Don’t Know How to Write This Essay

There’s no excuse for this complaint in today’s world of sample essays readily at your fingertips. Even if the essay topic assigned is somewhat obscure – samples in this essay genre (informative, argumentative, compare and contrast) will be all over the web. Try to look at some sample student essays of any kind first—you will begin by saying—“Heck, I can write better than this.” Then, run off a copy of a contest winning essay in that genre—and use that for inspiration on structure, style, voice, and maintaining a thesis.

Obstacle Two: I Don’t Have Enough to Say About This Topic

Oh yes you do! You just haven’t studied and researched your topic yet. Unless you are writing about yourself and yourself only, it is certain that you will learn something from researching this topic and taking notes on this topic. As you take notes, arrange them in the order in which they would seem to come up in your essay—soon, you will see an outline for your entire essay emerging before your eyes and all kinds of new ideas for things to say.

Obstacle Three: You’re Having an “I’m Not Getting Anything Done Day”

Now, here’s my trick for resolving this dilemma. Pick one or two things you know you do well and do them to (a) get your energies flowing and (b) restore your confidence that you are good at many things. Are you good at straightening up the family room quickly while your Mom makes cleaning last all day—then do that first! She’ll be happy, you’ll feel renewed, and all this will help fuel your enthusiasm for a new task. Then, if a quick run, walk, or aerobics workout is something that inspires you try that—exercise is a great way to make you feel that you’ve accomplished something important all ready.

Obstacle Four: My Essay is All Over the Place

Organizing an essay can be challenging for early writers. There are formulas for all essays. Let me tell you about them and how to combat each challenge.

  1. The Introduction – often, the way to get started at the very beginning is to skip this—and write a simple topic sentence or thesis statement at the top.
  2. The thesis statement—cast this in the I version –“In this essay, I’m going to argue that marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes in every state in the U.S.”
  3. The Body: Look at the body paragraphs as proving your thesis step by step—listing reasons why it should be legalized, for example.
  4. The closing —the trick to these is bring the essay into something that very very recently happened in your topic area.

Obstacle Five: Every Sentence You Write Makes You Feel As If you Cannot Write

You have to get the critic off of your shoulders in order to write. The best trick for this is to tell yourself –“this is the first draft not your final draft, and no one will see this.” So keep writing. Another trick for this is to use the Hemingway method. Hemingway could not proceed with paragraph two until he had paragraph one perfect. So try the “write one paragraph—revise, revise, revise” method for a half an hour—no more. If you don’t become inspired by that now perfect sounding paragraph—well, I simply know you will.

Now, you ARE a good writer. Know this—and GO WRITE!