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Essay writing hints: asking friends for help

Writer’s block can be a major challenge for students. This is especially true with individual essay assignments. Sometimes even the best, most engaged, most enthusiastic students can find themselves facing the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of writer’s block. It may occur before ever writing a word or it may happen halfway through the essay. One of the best strategies you can use to overcome your difficulties in essay writing is to seek out the help of your friends.

Brainstorming with Friends

If your difficulties lie in choosing a topic or forming a thesis, your friends can be helpful by providing you with a sounding board. In this case, a sounding board is person with whom you simply discuss your ideas. Their reactions to your chosen topics, their own thoughts about them, even their criticism of them can all be valuable contributions. You’re not looking for your friends to suggest or choose a topic, but for a lively discussion with them to inspire you to choose your own topic.

Refining Your Thesis

If you’ve come up with what you believe is a good thesis statement but you’re having difficulty supporting it, enlist the help of a friend. Let them argue for or against the thesis—their choice. You’ll attempt to argue the opposite position. This isn’t a formal debate, and you don’t need to cite particular sources or research. Just have fun with it. Be silly. But in the midst of this casual debate, pay attention. Often great ideas for supporting your thesis will reveal themselves.

Get a Jumpstart

If you find you’ve stalled halfway through writing, get a friend to write just one sentence to follow your last one. It needn’t be completely accurate to your topic—the point of the exercise is simply to progress past the point where you are stuck. Often after overcoming the worst obstacle, you’ll find the rest of the essay comes to you easily.

Why do These Tricks Work?

Having a friend help you out in these casual, low stress, low pressure ways can help because most writing difficulties come from obstacles you’ve concocted yourself, in your own mind. Stress and anxiety are powerful, and they’re capable of derailing your train of thought. By getting a friend to help, you are able to move past your writing block simply by relaxing and having fun. Removing the stress and pressure of sitting alone with your ideas is often the only help you need.

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