Fear of the Blank Page


Students faced with a writing prompt in a class or on a test often complain that their minds go blank.  “I have no idea!” they complain.

Frustrated boy, frustrating studyWhat are some strategies for overcoming fear of the blank page?

First, make use of what you know best–yourself.  Can you relate the prompt to your own life?  Perhapsyou have gone through something similar.  If so, you can compare.  Perhaps you have gone through something different.  If so, you can contrast.  Perhaps you have an opinion about the topic, and can lead in with “I think that,” or “I agree” or “I disagree.”  Writing from your own perspective helps you avoid generalizations, which bore.

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A second strategy is to use the news.  Relate the prompt to something occurring in the world today.  Make a connection between the writing task and current events.  Specific ties to current events will make your writing more lively and interesting.  Also, if you bring in world events, your readers are more likely to have an opinion.  They will want to read to the end and discuss what you have written.  Of course, this strategy means that you have to be aware of what is happening in the world.  Think broadly!  This doesn’t just have to mean politics.  You can read up on current events in art, entertainment, sports, and the environment.

Finally, don’t be a perfectionist.  Jump in.  Once you are writing, more ideas usually come.pencil-918449_960_720