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Writing

Writing Motivation 

If you’ve ever had trouble starting an essay or staying focused, you’re not alone! Getting started and staying motivated can be the most challenging parts of writing an essay. Here are some tips: 

  1. Plan your week. Book time for work and time for fun. Stick to that schedule. 

  1. If you tend to forget about work or put it off until the last minute, have regular reminders staring you in the face: a big wall calendar, post-it notes, daily phone alerts, etc. 

  1. Find out when you work best—morning? night?—and work then. Stick to that rhythm. 

  1. Create a good workspace. Find a place where you’re productive and do all your work there.  

  1. If you find yourself getting snuggly in your loungewear and falling asleep while you work, stay alert by getting dressed and sitting at a table.  

  1. Try listening to one song or playlist on repeat so you don’t procrastinate by choosing music. 

  1. Drinking water can help you stay focused and alert. 

  1. Try exercise! Even a walk can help boost energy and improve your attitude. 

  1. Set time boundaries. Set a timer for 25 minutes or 1 hr and work until it stops! 

  1. If an essay or project makes you anxious, write down everything you need to do to finish. Pick a small task from your list and start with that.  

  1. Use tools and strategies: Set deadlines or reminders in Google calendars, use the Pomodoro method, create SMART goals, make a manageable to-do list (no more than 5 items!), etc. 

  1. Set deadlines with friends for each stage (see #10) and be accountable to each other. Try asking your TA for deadlines. 

  1. Distracted online? Turn off WiFi, ask a friend to change your password, or use a website blocker like StayFocused or SelfControl to stop you from visiting those pesky sites. 

  1. Self-bribery can be fun and motivating. “Once I finish this paragraph, I’ll eat a packet of gummy bears!” “When I’m finished writing this chapter, I’ll watch one episode of Doctor Who!” 

  1. Not interested in what you’re writing? Find some part that does interest you and focus on that. 

  1. Watch YouTube videos, TED Talks, or short documentaries on your topic. Listening to a passionate speaker or learning about something in a new way can get you more interested! 

  1. Think about a time you were productive. You did it then; you can do it now! 

  1. Let yourself daydream. Set aside some time to dream so it doesn’t get in the way of work. 

  1. Be ready to fail at productivity. You won’t always be completely productive and that’s okay! 

 

Improve your writing and study skills! Book an appointment with a writing advisor and/or academic coach on OSCARplus.  Questions? Email skills@mcmaster.ca

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