Topic: What to do When You are Stuck



OWL wrote:

What to do when You are Stuck

First, know that it is normal to feel stuck. This is what we call writer’s block. Sometimes you just do not know what to say next when you write. If this happens to you, try some of these ideas:

  • Do not panic. Remember, feeling “stuck” is normal even for the most experienced writers. Think of your favorite author. He or she experienced writer’s block at some point, too.

  • (If your paper is on the computer) Try handwriting the next part with a pen or pencil. Or, even try writing with something fun, like a gel pen or crayon.

  • Take a step away from the writing. This will clear your mind. Take a walk, ride your bike, pet your dog, call a friend, etc.. Whenever possible, try not to force ideas.

  • Start early with the writing process. If a teacher assigns a paper that is due in a week, start inventing right away. This will help you avoid forcing ideas or simply writing the first thing that comes to mind, even if it is not very good.

  • Talk about your paper with a friend or family member, or even talk to the family pet.

  • Talk with your teacher about his or her ideas to get “unstuck.”

  • Have patience. Coming up with ideas takes time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time.

  • Know that you can always change your ideas before you turn in the final draft of your writing.

  • Try listening to music while you come up with ideas. While this might distract some writers, many writers find that music helps ideas flow. Try your favorite music or music that you think is calming.

  • Do not worry about grammar and spelling when you invent and write your first draft.

  • Trust your voice and ideas. Do not compare yourself with other people and their work. Know that you have something special to say and your unique way of saying it.

Re: What to do When You are Stuck

PLEASE Paragraph-Writing Strategy
P - Pick a topic. 
L – List your ideas about the topic. (e.g., asking questions about the topic and then answering them, listing or mapping out ideas)
E – Evaluate your list. (e.g., completeness, organization, and sequencing of ideas that will be used to generate supporting sentences)
A – Activate the paragraph with a topic sentence.
S – Supply supporting sentences.
E – End with a concluding sentence AND Evaluate your work.

Re: What to do When You are Stuck

Key Qualities of Organization

Creating the Lead

  • Did I give the reader something interesting 
to think about right from the start?

  • Will the reader want to keep reading? 

  • Have I tried to get the reader’s attention? 

  • Did I let the reader know what is coming?

Structuring the Body

  • Have I shown the reader where to slow down 
and where to speed up?

  • Do all the details fit where they are placed?

  • Will the reader find it easy to follow my 

  • Does the organization help the main idea 
stand out?

Using Sequence Words and Transition Words

  • Have I used sequence words such as later, then, 
and meanwhile?

  • Did I use a variety of transition words such as 
however, because, also, and for instance?

  • Have I shown that ideas connect from sentence to 

  • Does my organization make sense from paragraph 
to paragraph?

Ending With a Sense of Resolution

  • Have I wrapped up the loose ends?

  • Have I ended up at the best place?

  • Do I have an ending that makes my writing feel finished?

  • Do I leave the reader with something to think about?

Re: What to do When You are Stuck

Key Qualities for Ideas
Finding a Topic

  • Have I chosen a topic that I really like?

  • Do I have something new to say about this topic?

  • Am I writing what I know and care about?

  • Have I gathered enough information about it so that I am ready to write?

Focusing the Topic

  • Have I zeroed in on one small part of a bigger idea?

  • Can I sum up my idea in a simple sentence?

  • Have I chosen the information that captures my idea best?

  • Have I thought deeply about what the reader will need to know?

Developing the Topic

  • Am I sure my information is right?

  • Are my details full of interesting information?

  • Have I used details that show new thinking about the idea?

  • Will my readers believe what I say about the topic?

Using Details

  • Did I create a picture in the reader’s mind?

  • Did I use detail to draw upon the five senses? (sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing)

  • Do my details stay on the main topic?

  • Do I stretch for details beyond the obvious?