The most intimidating part of writing, for me, is getting started. I look at the assigned 5-, 10-, or 15-page paper and wonder how I could possibly go from a blank page to the fully formed paper with “graduate level writing” that I am expected to produce. I tend to look at that blank page and think that I’m supposed to sit down and write a polished academic masterpiece from start to finish. My brain takes the whole process of writing and condenses it into one, overwhelming task when it doesn’t need to be that way.
While ‘getting started’ looks, technically, different for me from paper to paper, I’ve found it only feels overwhelming when I tell myself “I have to do everything at one time”. Regardless of the phase of writing I’m in, I allow myself to mentally and physically walk away. Sometimes for a few hours and sometimes for a few days. Walking away for a few hours can help my brain relax; I might have a meal or a snack, or do something less mentally demanding like play a game or watch Netflix. Sometimes a good night’s sleep really helps me re-focus. Giving my brain that break is like taking recess in elementary school; it allows me to feel refreshed and ready to start again.
I’ve given you a peek at what my process is like, but this process is different for everyone. Spend some time figuring out what your ‘recess’ activities look like, try to incorporate those into your process and see how you feel if you walk away from it and come back tomorrow. It may take some time to find what works best for you, but one day you’ll sit down to write a paper and won’t feel quite so overwhelmed.