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09 May 2007

Please kick my ass into gear. That "only two pages" that I have left for my final paper of the semester WILL NOT WRITE. I try, I erase, I try again... I'm totally incoherent, and the paper's due tomorrow (and I have to run around most of tomorrow for various reasons, and need to finish this soon). Tips for breaking writer's block or general "STOP GOOFING OFF, YOU BUNNY-KICKING EVILDOER!" admonishments appreciated.
When I'm blocked, I just start writing, not censoring myself for quality, just to prime the pump. Even if I have to toss out the first page (or two, or more), it gets me past that clenched, damp, panicky blocked phase.

And please stop kicking the bunny.
posted by Elsa 09 May | 17:50
Whatever you are doing now will be a lot more fun to do once the paper is finished. And you'll be able to do it for longer.
posted by felix betachat 09 May | 17:53
What's the paper about?
posted by dersins 09 May | 17:54
Step away for 10 minutes. Take a brisk walk or do some yoga. Come back and write, but write about something else, keeping the topic you need to write about in mind, at some point when you are writing what you don't need to be writing, what you need to write will just pop into your head and you will be on the unstoppable road to an A+++.
posted by getoffmylawn 09 May | 17:57
dersins, I'm stuck on the "self-reflection" portion in a paper about diagnosing mental health problems.

Overall idea should be that diagnosing someone with something is good for some things (putting a label on the problem can be comforting for the patient, the process of going through and assigning a diagnoses can help the clinician approach the problem logically and thoroughly) and bad for other things (takes the client out of context and ignores the entire situation and whether it's actually the situation is dysfunctional -- sane response to an insane situation and all that, and.... something else).

Typing that just helped; it'll let me expand the beginning. But that "something else" bit is where I'm stuck, because everything I'm saying is incoherent and trite.
posted by occhiblu 09 May | 18:02
Think simple. What needs to be said? Then say it, damn it! Type the same thought 10 different ways, choose the words that aren't trite, you'll end up with something rough, then smooth it out.
posted by bobobox 09 May | 18:09
Presumably, also, diagnosing someone with something can sometimes discourage the clinician from seeing behaviors and other symptoms which do not conform to the diagnosis (i.e. the old "when your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like nails" cliche), but that's probably what you meant by "trite," so I'll shut the hell up.
posted by dersins 09 May | 18:12
Write it all out, extra pages, incoherent and trite. Then go back and get rid of the trite and clean up the incoherent.

You've got a great start!
posted by rainbaby 09 May | 18:14
Trite, Schmite. I'm pretty sure you're as brilliant as you are beautiful, which is a lot.
As David Sederis' sister's parrot Henry would say:
"You can do it!"
posted by krix 09 May | 18:15
Write the middle bit first. Or Just start at a random place. I'm guessing that you've got those last two page planned. Well, pick the bit of it you're least worried about writing and write it.

And if you don't like what you've written, don't erase it. Save it away somewhere so you can come back to it if you need to.
posted by seanyboy 09 May | 18:15
Whatever you need to write, it helps to insert some all-purpose cliché and write around it. (Then when you're finished, just remove or replace the clichéry.)

Here's Cliché Finder's Random Cliché Generator.
posted by wendell 09 May | 18:17
Heh, dersins, that was the point I was in the midst of botching when I posted this thread.

I suspect that part of my problem here is the professor included a list of questions we might want to address, and they're a bit... random. Which either means that she wants this to be a bit random, or that I should start ignoring the questions she's asking and just write.
posted by occhiblu 09 May | 18:21
If she's truly phrased it as "questions [you] might want to address," she likely intends the questions to be used as possible jumping off points for those who are having difficulties thinking of something to "just write," rather than as a highly structured template for your paper.

Or, anyway, that's how I would interpret it.

But I haven't taken an academic class since May of 1995, so what the hell do I know?
posted by dersins 09 May | 18:27
Oooh! Maybe the random questions were intended to lead you to this fuge type state and you've already nailed it! Admit it? In an academic fashion, not in a batshitinsane fashion?
posted by rainbaby 09 May | 18:29
you people think you have it rough. my people, they are without bungholes....
posted by jonmc 09 May | 18:31
rainbaby, HA!

"The process of diagnosis has led me into a crisis of conscience and an outpouring of self-doubt. I can no longer pursue this program. Thank you for your time."
posted by occhiblu 09 May | 18:32
Keep the first sentence! It really could be what she intended!

I am such an academia geek. I miss Grad School.
posted by rainbaby 09 May | 18:40
100 words to go!

I like the mental image of all y'all looking over my shoulder and making me write. Very motivating. Thank you.
posted by occhiblu 09 May | 18:53
But I haven't taken an academic class since May of 1995, so what the hell do I know?

I havent taken one since 1991 and I barely paid attention in those! I'm more ignorant than you! Hahaah!
posted by jonmc 09 May | 18:54
I don't know if this helps, but when I'm having trouble with a paper, I have a few beers. That generally loosens me up enough to get back to rambling as much as possible on the topic and editing it down. But I used to drink and write an awful lot before going back to college, so YMMV.
posted by the great big mulp 09 May | 18:55
I'm more ignorant than you!

Well, duh.
posted by dersins 09 May | 19:04

Now I can re-read it tonight and fix the majorest sucky parts.

Whuffles to you all. I may force you into more study groups in the future. You rock.
posted by occhiblu 09 May | 19:12

Now we do The Draft Done Dance!


posted by Elsa 09 May | 19:33
What?! I just put my dominatrix outfit on and oiled up the whip! Now I'm all dressed up and no place to go.
posted by deborah 09 May | 19:58
When I was finishing up last month, whenever I got to that point I kept telling myself "Done is better than good. Done is better than good. Done is better than good."

My father also gave me this advice, by way of a story:
Two guys are out in the woods when a rabid bear comes charging out. As one guy starts to tie his shoes, his friend asks, "What the hell are you doing? You're not going to outrun the bear!"
The first guy replies: "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you."

It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be moderately better than what's expected.
posted by klangklangston 09 May | 20:35
occhiblu, this is the PD speaking. QUIT DOPING OFF AND WRITE SOMETHING FOR CRISSAKES. This is a paper we're working on here, not a @%@%#!! group-grope. Write disjointed notes about what you want to say, but WRITE SOMETHING. I MEAN it, dammit! Quit looking in here and GET SCRIBBLING!
posted by PaxDigita 09 May | 20:44
posted by PaxDigita 09 May | 20:45
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be moderately better than what's expected.

That idea actually got me through the first eight pages. I don't know why I got so stuck at the end.

(Also, I am embarrassed to be admitting that my grad school requires only 10-page papers. It's, uh, not the most academically rigorous thing on earth...)
posted by occhiblu 10 May | 12:34
Thanks for posting this occhiblu and thanks everyone that offered suggestion (25 pages for an undergraduate class, and it's not writing itself right now.)
posted by acro 10 May | 23:08
You can do it, acro! You may in fact already have done it by this point in the day. :)
posted by occhiblu 11 May | 16:23
let's dance || I'm going to be in Scottsdale for a week.