Whilst it may be a little early to be talking about the dreaded assignments with some semesters only recently restarting, but I’m willing to be there are some that will have had theirs announced or already received a little homework and are having trouble getting it done (sorry to say – it still happens after uni). Fortunately here’s some useful things that can sometimes help to shift the block.
Go for a Walk
It sounds a little cliché but it really does work sometimes. When creating a work, many artists claim to find inspiration strikes when they least expect it (after many 2am wakings from strange dreams or the need for a walk, I’m inclined to agree). The same can be said for non-artistic works. If sitting at the laptop or in the library isn’t working for you, take a little break and have a short stroll. If a walk isn’t your thing, a drive or a ride can have the same effect. Get out into the fresh air and appreciate the world around you. You’ll be surprised at what the world may randomly present to you or what may lead to a train of thought back to your work.
If it doesn’t strike you on the trip, don’t fret! Some people find the thing they were struggling on for hours an easy fix when they get home.
Break It Up
This is a good one for early starters. Looking at a wall of text is no easy task. Writing one is no easier. So a simple solution – why not break it up into bits?
Many people find it easier to start on a particular section. Some people prefer to write a rough introduction. Others may split thing up into heading (much like how a lot of these posts are written), whilst many more plan their whole written assignments out first before attempting the first draft (often wise). If you start your assignments and homework early enough you can often break these segments up over time – so instead of writing 5,000 words in one sitting, perhaps write 250 at a time. When you’ve got a few consecutive parts, arrange them in the right order until you have the lot. Then you need only worry about making them fit together in your final draft.
Ask a Friend or Family Member
If you’re short of ideas and know somebody who might be able to shed some light, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Two heads are often better than one on large projects. If none of your friends can help, why not ask a family member. Even if they may not have studied or worked in the same field as your course, they may be able to offer general advice or point you to a useful resource that may help you become unstuck.
Book a Tutorial
It sounds a bit of a cop out, but your tutors are here to help. If you can, book a tutorial slot to go through what you have already. If it’s a specific area of interest, why not email one of the lecturers. Many are happy to shed some light on a situation, even if they’re not your specific lecturer. They may also be able to offer extra literature or scholars to pay attention to, giving you a useful thread to follow rather than trawling hopelessly through a Libguide or trying to remember the right number in the Dewey Decimal System.
Sleep On It
Similar to the walk/drive option, a good nap can sometimes help you escape from the block for a short period allowing you to relax, switch off your brain for a little bit and in a way reset yourself. As long this isn’t taken advantage of or you’re planning to do this midway through your all-nighter, a good bit of sleep can leave you feeling refreshed, re-engerised and with a fresh pair of eyes to cast upon your work again.
It’s worth noting that as everyone works differently, not all of these will work for everyone – feel free to mix and match to find your fit. If you find something special that’s worth sharing, feel free to leave it as a comment to share with everyone else!