We’ve all been there: you’re assigned an essay, you turn on your computer, and then you sit in front of a blank screen for 20 minutes. You ask yourself, “Where do I even begin?”
There are times you might feel stuck or completely overwhelmed by a prompt. That’s okay! It happens to everyone, but fear not! By using one of these hacks, you’ll kick-start your next paper in no time.
Sometimes just playing with words can kick-start ideas for your writing. BibMe.org has fun and comprehensive grammar guides that cover everything from demonstrative pronouns and examples of adverbs to the definition of interjection!
Hack #1: Make a brain map
Instead of focusing on writing, draw! It can be boring to look at a monolith of words. By making a brain map, you can identify what ideas, keywords, and sources you’ll want to potentially include in your paper.
There are a lot of ways to make a brain map. One method is to write the prompt in the center. From there, write any associated ideas around the prompt, and then connect these ideas to the prompt with a line. Continue drawing branches out from each idea, adding examples, arguments, connections, and sources. By the end of your brain mapping session, you’ll have a sense of how various ideas connect.
Hack #2: Type headlines into your document
Outlining is a common tool in essay writing and an impactful way to organize your paper. An outline allows you to get a sense of the flow of your paper, and to see if you’re connecting ideas in a way that makes sense. But sometimes, you might feel like your outline isn’t fully fleshed out or that you need to write a thorough outline before you can start writing.
A hack you can use to get around that feeling is to type headlines for the main ideas you want to include in your essay. By typing in all your headlines first before typing, you can use them as guideposts for your paper and ensure that you’re happy with the overall structure.
Your headers can just be key phrases or something more structured like “Main Idea 1: ____.” As you type, you can see how much you need to write for each section, and you’ll slowly but surely fill in the gaps.
Check out a BibMe research paper outline example for inspiration!
Hack #3: Don’t write in order
Speaking of filling in the gaps, there’s no rule that says that you must write your introduction first. An effective way to kick-start your paper is to write the section you feel most confident about first. Once you have that section down, it’ll be easier to write the rest of your paper.
One caveat about this hack is that you do need to ensure that your paper flows nicely before you submit it. Be sure to carve out some time at the end to review your paper’s overall flow.
Hack #4: Use citation tools
Citation tools are an awesome way to kick-start your next paper. By knowing that you have a way to ensure that your writing is up to par, you can focus on creating a rough draft that effectively analyzes ideas and arguments. Afterwards, you can use a paper checking tool to improve sentence structure, check for unintentional plagiarism, and more! Using citation tools allows you to completely keep your initial focus on the meat of your paper.
Hack #5: Write with a pen and paper
Nowadays we’re so used to typing that sometimes we forget that we can also write with a pen and paper. If you’re feeling stuck, a hack you can use to kick-start your paper is to start writing your essay by hand. As you write by hand, don’t worry about re-writing: just focus on getting some words down onto paper.
This hack is effective because it’s easy to delete words or phrases as we type. Though convenient (can you imagine using a typewriter to write your essays?), it’s too easy to self-edit. Convenient self-editing means you don’t get to see your progress. With a pen and paper, however, you can see how many words you’re actually creating yourself. Sure, you may not use every single word, but you have physical evidence of your progress. And that can be enough to get you writing!
And those are five writing hacks you can use to kick-start your next paper! Happy writing!