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Getting in Gear: 3 Ways to Make Writing the College Essay Easier

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They don’t call it writer’s block for nothing! Writing can be difficult, especially when you’re staring down the business end of a totally blank page. And super especially when you are under the gun to meet deadlines. If you’re feeling seen and your palms are starting to sweat, take a breath and summon the ghost of one of our favorite authors, Mark Twain, who famously said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” We couldn’t agree more, so here are three tips to help you get into the zone and get words on the page.

Turn Off Your Phone

We know, we know, you haven’t turned off your phone since you first liberated it from its shrink wrap, but at least put it in airplane mode. Getting into the right headspace and eliminating distractions is key. Turn off your notifications for ten minutes. That’s like half an episode of Bob’s Burgers. If you really want to, you can even set a timer (we actually love this technique for the early brainstorming phases). Once you get started you’ll probably end up writing for longer.

Don’t Be a Critic

No one likes a party pooper, so stop criticizing your own work. If you have 80% garbage in your brain, then write it all down so you can pluck the 20% of gold out later. Give yourself permission to freewrite without judgement. Almost nobody can spin out a perfect personal statement on their first try, so why not embrace the messiness of drafting and get as many ideas onto the page as possible. A good old fashioned brain dump can be a good way to detox your brain, but it also might help you remember amazing stories you wouldn’t have thought of without a little mental meandering. Do yourself a favor and put your college essay party hat on. And speaking of brain dump freewriting…

Hydrate, Eat, Sleep!

You can’t expect your brain to function correctly if you’re not giving it what it needs to survive! Grab a slice of pizza, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or take a power nap. Do what you need to do to be alert and present. If you’re having trouble writing in your normal homework spot, try something new. Maybe a quiet library nook or bustling coffee shop will provide a welcome change of pace. Or maybe you haven’t seen the sun in a few days (it can happen). Try taking yourself for a walk; you’d be surprised how a literal stroll down memory lane might inspire you.  

Writing doesn’t have to be a chore. Our expert advisors actually really love it (and would be happy to tell you why if you reach out.) But loving writing isn’t the antidote to writer’s block. Sometimes we all get stuck! You just have to keep going if you want to see your hard work pay off in the form of a wonderful college admissions essay. So take a deep breath, wave goodbye to Mark Twain, and get started.

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