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Finding the Motivation to Write When You Have None

Writing a paper can be rough. Really rough. Your roommate is streaming a show without headphones, a nap is calling your name, and if you did decide to jump into the paper, where would you even start? We feel your pain and have a few tips to help you get the ball rolling! 


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Choosing the right environment to work

This simple action will make the biggest difference in your paper-writing process. Take a minute to think about how you’re most productive. Do you like the energy of being around other people when you work? Grab your laptop and head over to a popular coffee shop or one of your school’s common buildings. Only able to work on your own with complete silence? Find a library on campus that has a specific quiet section or study rooms that you can reserve to work. If you love natural light, choose a sunny spot by the window. If you take a second to visualize and find your ideal work space, you’ll feel more comfortable and ready to kickstart your productivity. Unsure where is best for you? Try this quiz. 

Nab a pre-writing treat

Allow yourself a pre-writing treat to ease yourself into writing! Make yourself a mug of tea, grab a candy bar, put on your favorite album in the background, or any other little incentive you can think of to give yourself a boost to start writing. Yes, you need to write this paper, but you’re allowed to treat yourself while you do it! Once you debunk the myth for yourself that writing a paper needs to be stressful and hard, you might even catch yourself having fun. 

Visualize your post-writing reward

 In addition to your pre-writing treat, visualize your post-writing reward! Daydream for a few minutes to think about how your life will be a little easier or more fun once your paper is written. Will you get to go to bed an hour earlier? Meet up with a friend for fro-yo? Binge a few sitcom episodes? Mentally establishing what you’ll do after this paper is done and getting excited about it will charge your essay with some enthusiasm!  

Notice your strengths

Map or expand on your favorite part of the writing process first. Take a beat to think about what your standout strengths are and make an inventory of them. Are you naturally interested in the topic that you get to write about? Free write for a bit about what you love about your topic to get some quick inspirationGood at making lists? Compile bullet points that you want to include in your paper, even if you’re not sure how to organize them yet. Talented at convincing others to favor your side of an issue? Brainstorm a few thesis statements that you think you’ll be able to work with.  

No matter what your strength is, there is a way to transfer it into the writing process. You’re already better equipped for writing than you think. Self-awareness and reflection of your strengths will take you a long way with your paper, and once you’ve used what you’re good at to lay the foundation of your essay, you can build the more tedious parts of the writing process around them. 

Now that you’ve set yourself up in an environment that suits your work style, treated yourself (and imagined how you’ll treat yourself later!), and used your strengths to find the most fun way to start, you’re ready to dive into your paper! If you need more tips on getting motivated before you start, check out this video from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University (Purdue OWL). Happy writing!


Once you’re finished with your first draftuse the EasyBib grammar and plagiarism checker to spot errors before finalizing it. There are also free grammar guides to help you learn the various parts of speech.

Kelsey Wort

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