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  • Michele Turk

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Most Regular Decision deadlines are less than a month away, but you still haven’t figured out a topic for your Common App essay? Perhaps you’ve settled on a topic, but you can’t bring yourself to sit in front of the computer. Or maybe you haven’t begun those annoying supplemental essays.
Our take? Writer’s block is not the problem; not writing is the problem. That said, we’ve listed a few tried and true tips for helping you finish those college application essays ASAP so you can enjoy winter break: Set a timer: On day 1 (today!), set a timer for 30 minutes, and then start writing. Do the same on Day 2 and 3. This will help you get into the habit of writing daily, and you’ll be done in no time. If you are on a roll when the timer goes off, keep writing… Take a break: If you hit a wall, do something to clear your head and relax, like taking a walk, listening to music, or grabbing a snack, then head back to the computer.
Set mini-deadlines: Make a list of all of the essays you need to write, and then create a schedule spelling out when you will tackle each essay. You have no idea how many students create unnecessary stress for themselves — and their entire family — because they write their essays during the week between Christmas and New Year’s (a busy week for our tutors!). Just this past Halloween, hours before the November 1 Early Decision/Early Action deadline, the Common App website shut down for two hours because more than 100,000 applications and 700,000 teacher recommendations were submitted in a 24-hour period.
Reward yourself: When you achieve one of your goals, give yourself a pat on the back and a trip to Starbucks, or watch an episode of your favorite show before tackling the next assignment.
Change the scenery: Still convinced you have writer’s block? Try eliminating distractions (put the phone in another room) or better yet, head to a quiet place like the library.
Don’t waste time: One of the biggest mistakes students make is procrastinating, then leaving no time for revisions. Students also don’t spend enough time on the all-important supplemental essays.
A final thought: The novelist Jodi Picoult once said, “Writer’s block is for people who have the luxury of time.” So start writing!

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