I certainly feel stuck with my academic writing every once in a while. Who doesn’t? I also feel stuck with any other writing – applications forms, difficult emails, reports, you name it. We have all been there…
However, yesterday I heard of an interesting trick to unblock. I felt I was going in circles in my writing describing the same thing over and over again with different words. It was like I had nothing to say because my mind was blank but I was still trying because I had to. Yes, that horrible feeling! So after I complained briefly to my supervisor, he suggested that I go and get the first newspaper I find, then get a highlighter pen and read the first page paying attention to the words. He said I was going to notice that some words were related to what my writing was about so I could use them as a starting point to refresh and organise my ideas.
And so I tried. I got the paper and the pen and started reading the front page . I was thinking ‘Oh, that’s really interesting! But how is it helping me with the writing?’ Then stopped for a moment. I was reading the meaning of the text without noticing any of the words. They all made sense to what the article was about but I did not notice any connection with my writing problem. So I re-focused and read word by word thinking about how each of them could be related to my work and what other meanings it had. I began highlighting and felt at ease. Interestingly enough, other nice academic-y words started floating in my mind so added them in the margins. 30 minutes later I was back to my writing with a smile on my face – I read an interesting article (or actually the fraction of it that was on the front page), had a bit of a think and got inspired to write. Easy as that! I will make sure to remember that trick!
If you decide to give it a go, let me know how it goes in the comments below! Happy writing!