Liaison 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:
- I go for a long walk to take a break and clear my head.
- 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.
- I imagine teaching a lecture on the topic and write down, in bullet form, how I would explain the subject to a nonexpert.
- 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.
- I work on another part that I find easier to write and come back to the problematic section later.
Photo credit: April Colosimo
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.