By Roisin O’Donoghue
I have a complicated relationship with the written word. I mean, I love writing about things that I know and care about whether it’s a comment on a Facebook post or blog post about university. However, because there are so many different types of writing, there are many ways to feel about it. When I have to write about a topic I don’t enjoy or am not familiar with then writing can be a nightmare.
Academic writing can be a nightmare if you’re not used to it or you’re writing on a subject you don’t like or understand. I don’t like writing that is too heavily structured, but I don’t like it when I’m given too much freedom either. Another issue I struggle with is finding the right words to use. These can lead to writer’s block which is a total head-wrecker. You might think that writer’s block only happens when you need to be totally creative about what you’re writing but in my experience, this is not strictly true. Certainly, it is a problem when you are required to produce an original piece of writing, but I always remember what my Leaving Cert English teacher told me: Write about what you know. I know about a lot of things and anything I don’t know, I like to research. Which comes in dead handy when you’re writing an academic piece because that usually involves a whole lot of research, if you want to do it properly. I often find that when I’m working on an essay for a module that I know what I want to write I just don’t know how to make it sound comprehensive because I know what I mean but will the person reading and grading this essay know what I mean? This is important in academic writing because your goal is to explain, analyse or prove something and you can’t achieve this if no one understands a word you’ve written.
My advice to anyone who is struggling with this issue is too take a step back from the whole thing, just for a little while. What I usually do is go for a quick walk to clear my mind. Sometimes a full stomach can help, or chat with friends. The one solution that almost never fails me is trying to find inspiration from other places (always careful never to plagiarise of course). I tend to come back with a renewed perspective and can help find the right words for my thoughts and ideas. Another thing which you must remember is that just because you’re struggling to find the right words doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer. We all struggle to articulate ourselves, you’ll get there in the end. I hope this helps!