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Why Can't I Write? - Some Advice on Drafting

Start drafting now! Once you have collected many ideas and considered the various sections of your paper, try this strategy: a sustained piece of writing to complete a rough draft of most of the assignment. This draft is for you, so concentrate more on content than form. Here are some suggestions:

  • Sit down for 45-60 minutes when and where you won't be interrupted, and reread the assignment.
  • Start typing and don't stop! Your goal is to write a complete, imperfect draft.
  • Try to write complete sentences and paragraphs, but don't worry about grammar or punctuation. Do not stop to fix anything!
  • When you are stuck on a particular section, step back and try to generate more ideas by brainstorming on the topic of that section. Or type in ADD MORE ON THIS, or a similar reminder that you need to return to this part, skip a few lines, and start writing another section of the assignment.
  • If you are a perfectionist, turn off your screen so you can't see it as you type. If you can't read what you are writing, you won't stop to edit and interrupt the flow of thought that you are trying to sustain.
  • If it is easier for you to talk than to write, try using a tape recorder to get your ideas out. Record yourself as you talk through the questions in the assignment. Afterward, you can listen and transcribe the spoken material.
  • A formal outline can help you organize your ideas. The pattern of a formal outline is

    Thesis Statement:

    I. First main idea

    A. First subordinate idea
    1. First example

    2. Second example

    a. A supporting detail

    b. Second supporting detail

    II. Second main idea