Giovanna Badia

Giovanna badiaLiaison Librarian, Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering

Q: What do you do when you are struggling with a particular point in your writing?

A: Before writing a paper, I usually create a detailed outline in bullet form so I know exactly how everything will be connected.  The content is planned out before I start composing complete sentences for the paper in order to make the writing process as easy as possible.  I find it easier to write an outline to get myself started than to write full sentences.


I also find it challenging sometimes to explain specific points, and use these strategies to conquer my struggles:

  1. I go for a long walk to take a break and clear my head.
  2. I read again some of the articles I found that are related to the point that I am struggling with in my writing.  This often generates new ideas.
  3. I imagine teaching a lecture on the topic and write down, in bullet form, how I would explain the subject to a nonexpert.
  4. I read over my thesis statement to remind myself of what it is that I am trying to achieve in the text.  How will this problematic point help me to achieve the objective of the paper?  What is the connection?  What do I wish the reader to understand by including this point in my essay?  I find that asking questions prompts me into action.  
  5. I work on another part that I find easier to write and come back to the problematic section later.

Photo credit: April Colosimo

Recommended resource:

Silvia, P. J. (2007). How to write a lot: A practical guide to productive academic writing.

Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Available at McGill Library

This book is one of my favourites.  It contains many down-to-earth ideas to keep writing.  Writers frequently do not wake up inspired; they just have some strategies up their sleeves to keep going.