Writing Anxiety

Do you have writing anxiety? Many students experience a great deal of stress when asked to write something for a class, especially if they are asked to write during class under the added pressure of time limitations. Students might be anxious about having to think up a good idea, flesh the idea out, and then have their writing evaluated by their instructor. They sit staring at a blank page waiting for the words to come. This is sometimes called writer’s block and it is a very frustrating experience. However, writing anxiety becomes harmful when students experience writer’s block almost every time they try to write. When students are anxious about writing, they try to avoid it as much as possible because they find it such a stressful activity.

Coping with writing anxiety:

-Write often. Like any skill, your ability to write will improve with practice. You may want to keep a daily journal where you record your experiences. Or you might want to do some “free writing” by giving yourself a fixed amount of time to write about whatever you want. Another alternative is to sit on a bus or in a coffee shop and write some character sketches about the people you see.

– Work from a plan. It’s helpful to make a list of the points you want to make and them use your list to guide you when you are writing your paper. If you are having trouble organizing the points you want to make, talk to a classmate or a tutor about your ideas. Most campuses have a writing center or a place where students can talk to a tutor a out their papers at any stage-from choosing a topic, to reading rough drafts, to critiquing final drafts.

– For essay tests, predict questions. Use your class notes and topics emphasized in the text to predict the kinds of questions that might be asked.

– Start early. Because students were experience writing anxiety try to avoid writing, they often procrastinate until the last minute. Sometimes these students believe that they can write only under pressure, but they are fooling themselves because they are actually making their stress level greater by waiting until the last minute. If they do not make a good grade on the paper, they blame it on the fact that they have trouble writing instead of the fact that they churned it out quickly.

Excerpt from College Success Strategies by Sherrie L. Nist and Jodi Patrick Holschuh.

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