How to get past the first steps of writing

How to get past the first steps to writing

Hello All,

My name is Triona. I am delighted to be taking part in the Skills Centre “If I knew then what I know now” initiative. This blog post is designed for all students; those transitioning into college from Secondary School, from their undergrad to a masters, those taking their first step into education as a mature student and all those returning to education after some time away!

I am 22 and currently studying a master’s in human resource management in UCC. I completed my BA Arts in English and Geography in UCC as well. My studies have been majorly focused in the humanities and relating my work to people and society. This means I have written lots of essays that start of as really broad ideas that need to be pinned down and focused so that I can get a strong coherent point across. Looking back now having completed almost four years of college it seems obvious what I need to do when I am starting an assignment. However, it was not always so easy for me to get started with my work and sometimes I still get stuck when I have a particularly difficult module.

During my undergrad degree if I had to write an assignment, I used to find it so hard to get started. I would stare at the blank page and not put anything down on paper unless it was perfect. I remember about halfway through my first year I attended one of the Skills Centre’s workshops called “Building an Argument”. It’s safe to say it changed the way I wrote my assignments from then on! The benefits of planning my assignments were lost on me when I began my academic journey. Now I know that in order to get started I need to make a plan, brainstorm, research, revise my ideas, and then get writing properly. A big part of this is deciding on the argument I want to make before I start writing!

Making a spider diagram was another invaluable tool I learned. It really helped me nail down the three of four key points I wanted to make. Following on from there I could look for references to back up my points and then suddenly the whole thing comes together nicely.

When I started my masters in HR I found I was struggling to get started again. I found the new subject matter daunting. Through my own trial and error and the help of the skills centre workshops I learned the power of brainstorming!

This process has been constant learning. In the first week of my masters I was asked to free write for an assignment and it blew my mind how many ideas I had when I didn’t try to make the information perfect from the get go.  I wrote constantly for ten minutes and if I did not know what to say I just scribbled or wrote random words until I thought of a sentence. This has really helped me with a new and challenging course. It refreshes to me the key points that I took from the module and then from there I can plan my essays.

Resisting the urge to only put finalised ideas down on paper has helped me get over being 'stuck' with new assignments. The insights I have gained through attending the Skills Centre workshops and attending Academic Coaching session have been invaluable.

I hope this has been of benefit to someone who may be in the same boat that I was. If I knew then what I know now, the biggest piece of advice I would have given to myself, is start with a rough plan and allow time for the assignment to be messy. Everything can be edited afterwards.