Overcome The Pain And Frustration That Comes With Writer’s Block So That You Can Write A Great Application Essay

Some people tell us that they sit in front of a computer screen and seem unable to come up with anything to write. What makes it worse is that you may have a deadline looming, and each second that passes just ads to your anxiety.

There are many ideas on overcoming paralysis as a writer. Others say that writer’s block is a euphamism for a lack of work ethic and discipline.  Psychologist Steven Pritzker, PhD, co-editor of “The Encyclopedia of Creativity” (2011) says that what’s known as writer’s block is an “artificial construct that basically justifies a discipline problem. A commitment to a regular work schedule will help you overcome barriers like perfectionism, procrastination and unrealistic expectations.”

When you need to finish by a submission deadline, you may not care so much about the cause for you not making progress on your essay, but just want a cure.  So, if you are having trouble getting started then you may want to try some of these techniques to start making progress on your application essay.

1. Commit To Writing Something – Anything

You are probably thinking that nothing you could write would be of any interest. That may be true. However, if you allow yourself to stop and go on with life without having written anything, you are not going to make any progress. It’s not likely that you will suddenly stumble on a great idea that will just drop itself in your lap as you approach the submission deadline. So, require yourself to write something.  Do not give yourself permission to move on to other things without writing something down.

2. Tackle The Thing You Fear Head On

You probably have a fear that what you write will be too boring or too personal or too … something.  If you are afraid of writing about something, then write about the exact thing you’re most afraid of without any concern that it will ever see the light of day. Get it on paper (or an electronic version) so that you can be freed up to think about other things.


3. Make Your Task Easy To Accomplish

You may not be able to write flowing paragraphs at first. That’s fine. Just write sentences about different topics or experiences that you can write about later. In fact, you may just want to start with a list.  Then, you can add to the items on the list later on. It is often easier to add to something or edit an idea than it is to create something from scratch. 

4. Incentivize Yourself To Accomplish Something

Some candidates do well when they have an incentive or reward for getting something done. One student rewarded himself by listening to his favorite song when he’d finished a task. Others reward themselves with being able to watch a television program or listen to an episode of a podcast. Whatever motivates you, use it to help you get rolling.

5. Discipline Yourself At Your Time

Our minds are subject to habits. If you do not find it easy to write, then set a time when you can focus on writing and dedicate  yourself to writing a specific number of words during that time period.  It may be only 20 or 30 minutes that you can dedicate to it – and your mind may initially tru and get you to focus on other things. Stick to it – and keep at it regularly. As you do so, you’ll find that your mind will start to kick in and embrace that time.  Soon, writing will come to you more easily.

write without editing

6. Plant The Seed Of An Idea Before You Write

Once you have a set time to write, then put together a list of a few items that you will write about later in the day or the week. As you do, your mind will prepare those ideas and incubate them. Your concious or subconcious mind will work through those ideas so that by the time you get to start writing, you will have a gush of ideas that you’ve been waiting to write down.

7. Accept The Reality That Most Of What You Write Will Not Make It Into Your Final Draft

As you progress through the writing process there is a tendency to edit your writing as you go. You find yourself not writing about certain issues because you don’t think that they put you in the best light. This tendency really stifles creativity because you are not allowed to write anything that your concious mind thinks is worth of the final draft. Instead, take those issues head on. Give yourself permission to write about things that you definately will not include in the final draft. This is freeing and will embolden you to be more creative and write an essay that’s infued with your own, authentic voice.

Keep This In Mind As You Write:

Trust that your writing will be easier as you continue to work at it – and that breakthrough happens through writing.  You can’t wait for it to happen – you need to work through the writing process so that inspiration can ignite and you are free to expand your ideas. 

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” 

— Pablo Picasso