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If you Hate Writing Papers or Essays, Here’s what to Do

Hate Writing Papers or Essays

Hate Writing Papers or Essays

It is very common for students to hate writing papers and even avoid writing college essays. Some students perceive writing as a laborious task that takes much time to complete.

For a student to write a complete paper, they must first understand the various writing components, making the process difficult.

I have been there when I was a student. I used to hate writing essays. However, I am now a seasoned writer and offer academic writing services here at Grade Bees. You can seek our services whenever you need them. However, I will teach you how to handle the problem and practice what I did to become a good writer.

why do i hate writing essays

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What to do if you Hate Writing College Papers

As noted, some students hate writing papers because of the process and the time used to complete them. Since writing papers is inevitable for students, there are some things you can do if you hate writing papers.

Papers or Essay Writing

If you hate writing papers or college essays, you can hire writers. The other best approach is to plan your work, write informally, try using pen and paper first, create your own deadlines, and avoid distractions that take you away.

1.     Use Informal Language

One of the things you can do if you hate writing papers is to use informal language. What this means is that you should write the same way you talk.

Do not try forcing yourself to write using a formal communication style you are not used to.

This will make you hate the writing process even more. Once you are done with putting words into a page, you can formalize the language as you proofread and edit your paper.

Another tip is to record yourself talking about the contents of your paper and then write a transcript based on what you have said.

2. Start Writing with a Pen and Paper

Another thing you can do if you hate writing papers is to start with pen and paper. You can write your work on paper and later type what you have written by hand.

The good thing about starting with pen and paper is that it allows your thoughts to flow freely.

This is because writing using a computer makes the process feel official, creating a tense atmosphere. You will feel at ease when using pen and paper.

3. Create your own Deadlines

You can also create an artificial deadline if you hate writing papers. There is a tendency for students to procrastinate until the due date reaches.

It is best to create artificial deadlines by which you will be tackling your paper in parts. You can set a timer whereby you must complete a paragraph or a subtopic within the allocated time.

When the designated time is over, you can give yourself a break and continue later. Try to write something even when it is not perfect.

4. Plan in Advance

Planning in advance can also help if you hate writing papers. For example, if you must develop a formal paper, it is best to create an outline before you write.

Just imagine staring at a blank screen that you will have to populate with, let’s say, 5 pages of content.

5. Create an outline

an essay outline

Creating a comprehensive outline for the different sections of your paper will help you know exactly what to do and what will follow next. Let the outline be your starting point.

6. Avoid social media

Another thing you can do if you hate writing papers is to get rid of anything that distracts you, especially social media and the internet.

While the internet is a valuable source of research for papers, it can also divide your attention. When writing, stick to the internet sources that provide content for your paper and avoid wandering into other websites.

It is also important to avoid visiting social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram while writing your papers. Also, silence your phone to avoid further distractions.

7. Start with the End in Mind

Finally, do not start at the beginning if you hate writing papers.

Though your paper should be structured in such a way that it begins with an introduction, followed by body paragraphs, and finally, a conclusion, there is no rule that you should begin with an introduction while writing.

You can start with the body paragraphs followed by an introduction. However, do not start with a conclusion.

Ghostwriting Service for College Research Papers and Essays

Ghostwriting Service for College Research Papers and Essays

Why Students Hate Writing Papers and Essays

When a student says that ‘I hate writing,’ he or she means they are not motivated and are negative about the writing process. Well, there are several reasons why students hate writing essays. Let us explore each of these in detail.

Writing Papers is Uncomfortable

One of the reasons is that students may feel uncomfortable while writing. The writing process, which includes reading, researching, typing, creating citations and references, formatting, editing, and proofreading, can be taxing to students.

Why students hate writing papers

Students who lack the proper writing skills will find the process uncomfortable and therefore hate it.

The second reason students hate writing essays is that they lack proper spelling and grammar skills.

Student’s writing skills are tested when instructed to write essays, and they may be afraid to look bad if they possess weak spelling and grammar skills.

They are afraid to look stupid, thus the reason they may hate writing essays.

However, the good thing is that writing programs such as MS Word and online editing platforms such as Grammarly can help students correct their spelling and grammar.

Do not see the Purpose of writing papers

Another reason why students hate writing essays is that they do not see the need to write. This especially applies to students pursuing technical subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, etc.

They perceive writing as irrelevant to their career paths. Students pursuing subjects that require writing essays may end up loving writing.

However, those dealing with statistics, data, or numbers may find writing unnecessary and therefore decide that they hate it.

 Some Topics are Irrelevant

Another reason why students hate writing essays is that some essay topics may feel irrelevant. Most essay topics given to students may be boring and completely irrelevant to students’ day-to-day lives. Again, those topics may deviate from the topics or issues students love and can relate to.

Students view writing as Subjective

Students hate writing essays because it is subjective. There are no right or wrong answers. Students have to present arguments and support them in writing.

It is up to the instructor to decide which paper presents the best argument. Finally, the editing and revising process is boring and repetitious. This attitude of viewing writing as a subjective task makes students hate writing essays.

Why I Hate Writing College Essays

One of the reasons why I hate writing papers is that I have a hard time starting the whole writing process. This especially applies to long papers requiring much background information and content.

This is very overwhelming. When it comes to actual writing, I find it difficult to organize my thoughts and utilize writing mechanisms. In fact, I prefer to use legal ghostwriting services , which leaves me with more time to do my chores.

A good paper should be organized in such a way that the reader understands what the writer is trying to communicate. Organizing a paper to appeal to the reader is difficult, hence why I hate writing papers.

Another reason I hate writing papers is finding the most appropriate words to express myself. This is a slow process that requires much thought and practice.

Sometimes, I may be stuck trying to find the right words or phrases to communicate my thoughts. This brings in the issue of developing ideas. I find ideation to be a very difficult process.

At the same time, keeping track of those ideas is a struggle. I might forget some ideas while writing. I realized that the best remedy is to outline the different ideas to avoid forgetting them.

How to Love Writing College Essays

Now that we have discussed what to do if you hate writing papers let us explore how to love writing papers. As noted, writing papers is inevitable for students because writing papers is part of the curriculum. The following are some strategies you can utilize to help you love writing papers.

How to Love Writing College Papers

One of the strategies to help you love writing papers is to ensure that you do not worry about other things during the writing process.

When you begin writing, it is imperative to clear your mind and focus on your writing objectives and goals.

You should sit silently and meditate on the paper for a few minutes to achieve this. Ensure that whatever you think about and do is centered on the topic.

The next strategy you can utilize to help you love writing papers is to discover the style of writing you love and the topics that interest you.

However, the topics administered to write about may not align with the topics you love. In such cases, you should stick to the writing style you love.

If, for instance, your instructor has given you several topics to choose from, select the topic containing the areas and genres you love.

Various writing formats are used in writing papers. Select the format you are most comfortable with and one that you love to avoid boredom. You can learn how to select research topics and know how to pick the one that interests you and has content.

Another method to help you love writing papers is to devise a reward system when you achieve your writing goals. For example, if you must submit a 10-page paper within a week, you can decide to divide the task as per the deadline.

You can decide to write 2 pages every day. If you achieve the goal of writing the two pages, reward yourself. The reward does not have to be something big.

It can be, for example, taking a walk, laying down, taking your favorite snack or drink, and so on. Doing so will subconsciously connect writing with something you look forward to and love.

The next strategy you can use to help you love writing papers is to put on the music of your choice while writing. This especially applies to students who prefer background music while performing other tasks.

Your favorite music can help put you in the correct mindset and even inspire your thought process. However, you should avoid loud or distracting music.

To sum up, it is undeniable that writing papers and essays are sometimes a pain in the ass for some students. They constantly seek ways to escape their assignments and get good grades. Writing essays presents a job that requires writing competencies and skills.

Because of this, students tend to have and even avoid the writing process. Since writing is inevitable for students, embracing it and finding ways to love it is important. If you still cannot like it, think of ways to escape doing your homework and earn the grade.

Jessica Kasen

Jessica Kasen is experienced in academic writing and academic assistance. She is well versed in academia and has a master’s degree in education. Kasen consults with us in helping students improve their grades. She also oversights the quality of work done by our writers.

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What to do if you dislike writing research or academic papers.


Unfortunately, even if you hate writing academic papers more than anything else in the world, you still have to do it if you want to graduate successfully. However, it is possible to alter one’s attitude towards something – often to a greater degree than you may believe. Here are some techniques that can make writing your next academic assignment bearable, if not outright pleasant.

1.    Take breaks

Taking regular breaks is important in any kind of work, and writing is no exception. Divide your assignment into a number of reasonably small parts and promise yourself to take a break after you successfully complete each of them. Both the parts and the breaks may be as large or small as it is useful for your situation. For example, if you write an essay, you can take 5-minute breaks every 200 words. If you write something more substantial, both the parts and the breaks can be larger. Do something pleasant in the course of your breaks – this will motivate you to complete each part faster.

2.    Eliminate distractions

When you do something you hate, every potential distraction is twice as enticing as it usually is. This means that if you are surrounded by distractions while you write your academic paper, you are likely to get distracted all the time. To prevent this, single out the things that are likely to attract your attention as you work and remove them from you. If it is structure and general layout of the paper that give you trouble, consider custom term papers for sale. Block distracting websites using Leechblock or RescueTime, turn off notifications, switch off your smartphone, block out the external noises by some music in your earphones.

3.    Find a writing place that works for you

If you do something you hate, you should at least do it somewhere you feel comfortable. Where it exactly depends on your preferences: some like to work at home, others prefer a nice café; still others find it inspiring to work in the park. Take your pick.

4.    Don’t try to write like somebody else

One of the reasons why you may hate writing is because you believe that you shouldn’t write in your own voice. You think you need to imitate either someone else or to write in an affected manner that has little in common with your own way of thinking and writing. Most likely, you are wrong, and your writing will only be improved if you choose to follow your heart and write the way you like.

5.    Practice

Another reason why students hate writing academic assignments is that they are not very good at writing. The reverse is true as well – once you learn how to write more or less well, you start feeling pleasure doing it. Do a bit of practice writing assignments of the type you have to write most often. Who knows? Perhaps, it will grow on you.

6.    Don’t be perfectionistic

Perfectionism is equally deadly both for enjoyment received from writing and the results achieved. Don’t try to make every sentence perfect – it is impossible. Write reasonably well, don’t go crazy correcting what you’ve already written because you will never finish doing it.

Learning to love writing is hard and long work, and we don’t claim that everybody is capable of doing it at first attempt. But making writing pleasant is achievable – and you can do it.

David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.

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Using Psychology

Using Psychology

Do you have an essay-writing phobia.

by jmalouff | Sep 30, 2011 | Uncategorized | 85 comments

why do i hate writing essays

A few years ago another academic and I were walking with a student (“Kiki”) who said that she always handed in essay assignments two weeks after they are due — the last day before she would receive a 0. Each time she lost 20% of the total possible points due to an automatic penalty of 2% per work day late. Over the long run she was ruining her chances of going on to postgraduate study. The other academic walking with us started to tell Kiki that the university had now extended the penalty period to three weeks with a maximum penalty of 30%, but I elbowed him right away and shook my head. I knew that if Kiki heard this news she would change to submitting three weeks late and suffer an extra 10% penalty. I knew that because I understand phobias, and Kiki had one — essay-writing phobia.

This phobia involves fear and avoidance of writing an assigned essay and/or submitting the essay. In addition to lateness penalties, the avoidance can lead to last-minute writing with its attendant stress, poor quality, and low marks. This phobia is more common than you might think.

What causes essay-writing phobia? The causes are similar for all types of phobias. The main factors likely to contribute here are genetic, biological predispositions to feel anxious, perfectionism in general, setting an unrealistically high goal for the essay, low self-efficacy for writing in general or for the specific essay, and low levels of self-control. Two other possible factors: Avoidance helps the person feel much better in the short run by reducing anxiety, and avoidance with frantic last-minute writing gives the person an ego-protecting excuse for earning a low mark.

So what is the way out of essay-writing phobia? I’ll suggest 10 strategies in order of value for most individuals:

1. Change your goal to something realistic and valuable, like doing your best under the circumstances or submitting on time or ending your avoidance. Put aside goals of being perfect and impressing the heck out of someone.

2. Gradually expose yourself to what you fear. Write the easiest part of the essay first — start with your name or the title. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Then write the next easiest part and so on, all the way to submitting. Praise yourself for courage at each step. Use my favorite definition of courage: Doing the right thing even tho scared. There is a great deal of research evidence that gradual exposure helps eliminate phobias.

3. Discuss your fears with someone who cares about your welfare or write in a journal about your fears. Bringing them out in the open will help you deal with them.

4. Calm yourself thru deep breathing, meditation, or some other means.

5. Focus on the task at hand — tell yourself what to do next on the assignment. Think that you are writing a draft that you will improve later, if necessary. Positive thoughts often lead to positive behavior.

6. Challenge self-defeating thoughts such as “Ï can’t do this” by thinking clearly about what “this” is and by looking for evidence from the past about whether you can do it.

7. Think of times you have written good essays and submitted on time.

8. Think of how you overcame some fear before in your life.

9. Think of individuals you admire who acted bravely.

10. Write in a new location or using a different method, e.g., paper rather than laptop. The change of procedure might give you a new perspective or expectation.

Those are my thoughts. For a case study describing treatment of essay-writing phobia, see http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0005796786900422.

What helps you reduce essay writing fear and avoidance?

John Malouff, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology

[Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash]


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One of the most effective ways I’ve found to avoid procrastinating is to plan what I’m going to write thoroughly and to break it down into manageable chunks (introduction, arguments, conclusion, for instance). Often, I think we put off writing because we don’t know where to start or we’re afraid of getting lost halfway through. If you have a good plan, you always know what you have to write next, and if you chunk it, the job becomes less daunting, because you can take it a bit at a time.

As professional project managers say: first you need to plan the work, then you need to work the plan.

Dear John I have had this battle for a few years now, although not usually late with assignments, essay induced anxiety levels are high, especially close to submit time. My motto is still working on it – Never give up. So thanks for giving me something to help me “work on it”. I look forward to reading the case study, when, I my essays are finished. Kind regards

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This is brilliant! While I have never submitted an assignment late, I do procrastinate and worry every time I start an essay! I have to admit I have phaffed about for half a day over the abstract and introduction for a recent postgrad essay. Years of part-time study and I still agonise! :o)

I have often wondered whether we sometimes set ourselves up for failure so we have an excuse for not doing as well as we could.

Unfortunately though, setting high goals for an essay is often necessary for some students who need to maintain high GPAs in order to be competitive for places in honours and masters programs. I have found that this pressure added to my anxiety levels during my UGRAD. The old saying “You still get degrees with Ps” is true but not really helpful for a stressed out Psych UGRAD!!

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I think I have the opposite going on…..I can’t bear to leave an essay to the last minute. I need weeks (or months) to write, reflect, write and rewrite, write, reflect etc etc in order to arrive at a place where I feel ready to submit my work. This is the ONLY way I can handle the pressure of the task. And it actually gets me engaged with the task, and motivated to keep chipping away at it.

I agree, breaking it into chunks works. And on a hard day I’m writing the reference list or something more light on. I know on the next or the next day I’ll feel ready to tackle the bigger stuff………..but in the end it does come down to sheer hard work and putting in the time – including doing the painstaking research, and having enough time for reflection. And the feeling that you’ve put that sort of effort in is satisfying in itself, and even more so if receive a good grade.

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Thanks for the article. Having worked in the Australian Public Service for 19 years, writing is not something that scares me – but having returned to post-grad study, the concept of submitting an academic piece of writing has been more confronting. A different sort of pressure! Some great suggestions there – especially no. 10, though my wife might wonder what the heck I am up to tapping away on a keyboard in the buff! 🙂

Thank you for your article. The bodies of the essay seems to be the main part for me. I found if I break this up in chunks, topics are a lot better, ideally. Physically a relaxing massage may trigger more thoughts. Finally organised and finishing the task ahead of time.

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Thanks to all of you for your comments. Many of you point to breaking the assignment into manageable parts. That, of course, is what we do in eating. We cut up our food into small chunks and then we chew it into even smaller pieces. Good process!

I like the other ideas too — planning carefully, starting early, getting massages, consistent hard work, persisting, What thoughts do use to combat anxiety about essay performance?

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Arguably, the behavioural treatment of “phobias” is one of psychology’s paradigmatic successes. If the problem is with the submission of work, I think that what is required is a program of systematic desensitisation. Treatment could be integrated into an academic course, and as with all such programs would be fairly labout intensive. We would start with the submission of one sentence, delivered immediately upon receipt of the task, and after feedback had been given on that sentence, increase the task demand by an agreed on ‘trivial and immediately deliverable’ amount, give feedback, maintain salience by set a proximal deadline and so on until the task was complete.

Hi tjartz. I also favor gradual exposure treatment for phobias.

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Holy crap this is a legitimate phobia? Like, a phobia that is actually recognized by professionals? I’m not just lazy/a neurotic perfectionist? I’m going to look at the link OP provided to the case study because that would explain so much. I am stunned.

Background info: I am taking a year off from my undergraduate studies on account of abysmal grades and burnout. I am not a bad student, per se—I graduated in the top 10% of my high school class and was accepted Early Decision into a prestigious research university—but even since first grade, my experiences with essays and the like have been very similar to Kiki’s.

Hi Miriam. Not only is it a real phobia, it is a common one among university students. I see evidence of that in the many, many individuals who access my posting on the topic. Also I know students who partly defeat themselves by avoiding work on assigned essays.

In the nicest way… I don’t think that there are any illegitimate phobias. Everyone with a phobia is suffering, and often unnecessarily.

You might like to have a look at Carol Dweck’s work on ‘self theories’. In particular how we can be scuppered by implicit beliefs about intelligence and achievement.

Hi there. I agree — there are many different types of stimuli that lead to phobias in at least some people.

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This was really helpful. Right now I cannot give up any essays on time and I have a very low GPA. I am therefore gonna seek help and use some of these to help move forward in my academic life. It is also good to know I’m not the only one sufering

Hi CM. You are not alone with that problem. Good luck!

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The problem I have is It seems that I can’t write something good without the anxiety spurring me on. It seems to give me some extra ability to focus but also makes me hate the process. I can start writing an essay really early, but the good stuff does not seem to come out until the deadline approaches and the adreniline kicks in! It is really annoying. I would love to sit calmly and write an essay and even enjoy the process, but everything I seem to write is trite until I am backed into a corner. It is so frustrating!

Hi Davenwillow. It seems that you need challenge or high arousal to write your best. If you use your imagination, you find find other ways than an impending deadline to create challenge or high arousal when writing. Please write again if you find an alternative that works for you.

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My writing anxieties are beyond paralyzing. I become physically ill from the start of my writing, until my grade is posted. This information is so helpful, thank you!

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It is really nice to see someone acknowledge the topic of essay phobia in students. I have been struggling with phobia for taking tests and writing papers for a while now. During my school years I feared preparing for my final exams but now that I am in college I have a strong fear of writing papers. I have tried making outlines, setting concrete time limits, writing from the body of the paper, taking anxiety medication but none of these methods help to counter my anxiety/phobia. I know this might seem like excuses to prevent myself from writing academic papers but this is truly how it is for me. I try to talk about my writing problems with psychologists however it is hard for them to grasp just how bad it is for me and they chose to focus on other problems instead.

Hi Sadbot. I know a student who describes her avoidance much as you do. If you solve the problem for yourself, tell the world how you did it — you could help many individuals.

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Thanks for your thoughts, John, and everyone. I may have a ‘phobia’ now, but I didn’t start out that way. I’m an adult who returned to college 25 years after leaving, so learning how to write academically after years of e-mailing and Facebooking conversationally, has been really difficult. I think my phobia has grown out of my self-imposed perfectionism and the tedium in attempting it. Everything I write TAKES ME SO LONG. But, I agree that breaking into chunks, however one chooses to do it, is very helpful. Graphic organizers would be helpful, but I have yet to find a program that’s really cooperative with a newb. I spend all day trying to learn the program rather than getting started on my writing. Ugh. I’m sorry you all struggle, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

Hi Tracy. Albert Bandura would say that low self-efficacy about doing an assignment adequately is at the heart of essay-writing phobia. For students with a phobia, a better goal than doing the assignment adequately (which to some of them means perfectly) is to do the assignment as a good (or perfect!) student does: following a preparation/writing schedule, starting early, making continual progress, and submitting on time or early. In the long run of a career, timeliness in writing is more important than perfection.

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I’m so glad I came across this discussion. But I wish I saw this 5 years ago.

I’ve always had problems submitting essays on time back in my college days. I majored in both Psychology and Linguistics, and took a bunch of other social science electives so understandably there were a lot of writing to do. At some stage I gave up on myself and thought I was just a lazy ass procrastinator who will never amount to much.

Before I start on an essay I would spend a lot of effort doing my readings, planning my structure, and extracting the relevant information. But when it comes to typing out the actual essay, I get stuck. The untitled word document can sit on my laptop screen for days and we just stare at each other until its finally a week overdue. Consequentially, I usually get a good raw grade for content but the late penalty takes it down to a mediocre grade.

Fast-forward until today, I have worked in a stressful(but boring) corporate environment for a while and never had a problem with time-management or punctually. A possible explanation I’ve thought of is that, ironically, I cared more about the quality of my college assignments than the tasks at my current job.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of going back to pursue a Master’s Degree but my undergrad grades make me weep with regret. How could I possibly tell the admission panel that my subpar GPA was due to late assignments and expect them to wave their wands of forgiveness? I probably can’t…

Thank you John and everyone here for sharing your thoughts and sorry for my long post in secondlanguage-English!

Hi CQ. You are not alone in suffering consequences of essay-writing phobia. You write well — look for a way ahead.

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Wow- sums me up to a T! I’m doing my second undergrad, but my first one almost never got finished because I wouldn’t submit a thesis…it’s not that it wasn’t written, it was. In fact I wrote it one night but then spent the majority of the term “tweaking” it…which really just meant trying to fact check and double fact check, look for grammar problems and pick it apart to peices for no reason 🙁 I went as far as ruining my computer with some weird virus and was so relieved that I had a LEGIT reason not to hand in HAHA. My cousin is a computer whiz so that didn’t last for long. I took it to him to get it fixed but he was aware of the situation and ran my document through some of his editor friends then printed and submitted it for me omg! I got an A, but I felt robbed of my intellectual property- does that make sense?! I forgot about it for a while, but now I’m writing papers again and I can’t help but feel the same feelings as before. I know I have a problem with submitting papers but was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I finally did and thankfully my school has counsellors who are totally aware of this problem so now I get extensions and stuff but I try my hardest not to take too much advantage of that because I know in real life there are no extensions 🙁 I wanna “fix” this problem so bad…sooooo exposure exposure exposure! I may just try that writing naked tip too HAHAHA! Thanks for the great post and all the lovely dialogue going on here. Makes me feel a lot better about this 🙂

Thanks for your comment, NWM. Persistence is important in changing a habit.

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Hi! I just wanted to say I really liked this article – I’m so glad I finally have a name for what I’m going through! I hate, hate writing essays; when I’m faced with a deadline, I’m sometimes tempted to grab a hammer and smash my head or hand in just so I won’t have to write it. The weird thing is, I didn’t always have this phobia or feel terribly anxious about my essays. I did pretty well for my first 2 years of college, I would submit my essays at the deadline or maybe a day or a few hours late and get maybe an A- or a B+ with a late penalty. I’m in my fourth and final honours semester now, and for the past 2 years, I can’t seem to meet any of the deadlines. My procrastination has gotten really bad – I sometimes submit in my essays one week late. For every day I’m late, my profs dock my grade by one half grade, so an A becomes an A-. I start crying almost uncontrollably when I know I have an essay due; I go into denial mode and consider quite seriously jumping out of the window to make the task of writing an essay go away and I start to seriously consider the benefits of jumping since it would mean that I would never have to do another essay again. I know this is absurd, it is my last semester and after this, I’ll never have to write another academic paper again. I also know that once I’m done with my paper, I’ll feel really happy and totally at peace and in love with the world and I will no longer want to jump. I don’t think I’m a bad student, I’m actually quite academically inclined and really like sitting in classes, listening to the profs teach. If I keep my grades up, I’ll likely graduate with a second upper class honours which is crucial for me if I want to enter my country’s civil service. But I am so scared that I won’t be able to make it because I keep submitting my essays in late. Every essay is a living hell I have to go through :(.

Hi jtxz. I sense your suffering — I feel sad thinking about it. Part of your suffering comes from an approach-avoidance conflict (I think that you want to complete your assignment and get a good grade but you feel anxious about doing the work). If avoidance of writing assignments is your only avoidance, your problems will soon end when you graduate — you will be free!

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i cant write my essay. i just cant. im in college i should be able to write aa paper by myself.

Hi Moe. Phobias, though irrational, are common. I used to have a phobia of diving into water. I also had a phobia of public speaking. I am happy to say that I have left these phobias behind.

If the strategies in my blog don’t help you overcome the problem, consult a psychologist on campus. Phobia treatment usully works well.

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it’s a relief to know that i’m not the only one. I failed a course in April because of this problem. now i’m taking it for the second time but the same thing is happening. the dateline was yesterday. and to avoid myself from thinking about the penalty, i play game on the smartphone. it is so hard to overcome this kind of problem. i wish i never do this master degree. i hope the lecturer still accept my essay assignment although i know there is no chance coz he is so strict kind of person. thank you for this post anyway. i will continue my essay now.

Hi Liza. Persistence often pays off in overcoming a phobia or any other type of problem.

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This hits close to home, so close that even my nickname is Kiki! And as I am writing this comment, my deadline for a 1500 word essay is in 23 minute and I haven’t started >.< I have no problem studying for exams and doing assignments that do not include academic writing but just the thought of writing academic essays makes me break out in sweats! I have always either submitted my essays in late at uni or submitted in essays that only reached half the word limit. I would procrastinate until the last possible minute to start because usually the pressure of deadlines makes me less inclined to be perfect with my writing and just produce anything. In saying this, I have never failed an essay but also rarely ever achieved a great mark. My friends are always baffled by my phobia as I am an avid reader so they assume this means I am a great writer. My new years resolution to tackle this phobia is to write more. I will try to give myself things that I am interested in to research and write about. Hopefully I will be able to go through with this resolution!

Hi Kiki. You are a member of a large group (millions worldwide?) of individuals who fear and avoid academic writing. To leave the group, go right on Courage Street and then right again on Persistence Boulevard. If you submit a written assignment on time, with a proper word count, after starting early, and earn a high grade, your improved student behavior will be reinforced by the grade. If the grade is not so good, you may learn that you are not harmed by receiving a mediocre grade for maximum performance.

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I ended up reading this blog because I have an essay due tomorrow which I haven’t yet started. I’ve done all the background reading and research, and even written a detailed outline, but I have a complete block on writing the essay itself until I’m almost out of time.

I used to think it was something to do with the adrenaline kick when I finish something half an hour before deadline (I’ve never actually missed one, but at my college being five minutes late means the mark is capped at 40% – if the policy was 2% deduction a day, I’d be even worse) – now, though, I’ve realised that it absolutely is perfectionism gone horribly wrong. I know my writing isn’t anywhere near the quality of published work, therefore it’s automatically terrible and the marker will think I’m an academic failure (and a failure of a person, too, because why stop there?) Writing it all at the last minute gives me a protective excuse for submitting something imperfect.

I’m trying to overcome this, but when I do start early I agonise over every single sentence and an assignment that should take a day or two of solid work takes weeks instead, with the bulk of it still being written at the last minute! It’s an improvement on high school, which I dropped out of after missing literally every deadline I had there, but still.

Interestingly, this isn’t the case with written reports and evaluations I’ve had to do at work – because my manager either just thanks me for them or, if necessary, asks for revisions. It’s the grading that’s the trouble for me, as if the entirely of my self is being reduced to a number. Of course that’s going to be stressful, even if the number isn’t a disappointingly low one.

Thank you for this post! I know it’s a few years old now, but at least I know that I’m not alone.

Hi Leksa. You are not alone. I hope that at some point you will care much less what markers think of you — you are not on this earth to please markers, or to be perfect.

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Thank you for this article. I have struggled to explain my writing anxiety to others but when I do, I become frustrated because they don’t seem to understand. And I can’t make sense of it either. This has been an academic struggle for me going back to grade school. It has even negatively impacted my professional career.

I graduated a semester late from college because I didn’t turn in a paper and had to retake a class. Attempted to get my masters but after twice trying to complete my thesis class I gave up. It is not that I can’t write it is just such a difficult task…it is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I know that it has to do on some level with perfectionism and a fear of criticism. Like many I have the mindset that if I don’t try then I didn’t succeed by choice. Not sure were the mindset originated from but that is the inner voice that I battle with. This is the only area academically that I struggle with, I excel in all others.

I am currently back in school and picked an academic track that isn’t heavy on written assignments. Thought that with less writing that I could “will” my way through the writing but it is so bad that I look at the syllabus to determine how much a written assignment is weighted to determine if I will turn it in late or even at all. Which means that I have to work harder to sustain grades that can sustain the loss of points.

My issue isn’t organizing my thoughts because I can create an outline, have everything in order and can verbally recite the contents of the paper if asked. But when I put my fingers on the keys I feel like I am going into battle. It is a horrible experience that sometimes I just choose not to fight.

Hi Juanita. I can feel your suffering. I hope you will try psychological strategies or see a psychologist — anything that might help you overcome the problem.

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oh dear… Could I use this as an ‘extenuating circumstance’ to stop my essay being capped at 40%?

My university is totally draconian. 1 minute late and its capped at 40%!

The ironic thing was that it was the first time I started an essay early, I chipped at it slowly and got over my fear. I was 1 minute late to submit and all the effort I made dealing with my ‘issue’ was in vain. It’s really discouraging to want to start something early again.

I was under so much stress, i pretty much skipped Christmas celebrations to work on my frigging essay that drove me to tears and unexplained increased heart rate for three weeks!

I still submitted something subpar because I broke it into too many little chunks that took me beyond the submission date so i still pulled a 42 hour all nighter to reach the word count by the date. Imagine my blood shot, teary eyes when the woman told me I am a minute late.

God I am crying now remembering it now (This was three days ago). And I am on this website because I am back to my essay avoiding ways. Sigh.

Jaappy, you suffered mightily due to be slightly tardy in submitting. Although you did not receive the grade reward you wanted, you did show yourself that you can start early and submit at about the due time. Your next step is to start early and submit early. You are very close to that level of performance, which may gain you the grade you want and positive emotions.

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Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been struggle with this problem for years (since high school). And I feel like it has gotten worse as each semester goes by. I meant have to graduated from my undergrad degree last semester but I failed a subject (which wasn’t even meant to be hard in the first place) due to the exact same problem as Kiki in this article, in that I have this bad habit of submitting assignments a week or two weeks after the due date. I think it has a lot to do with my perfectionism which I have trouble dealing with, like I’m always re-writing and correcting everything before I even get to the rest of the essay. Even as I am writing this comment, I’m constantly either correcting myself or rewording my sentences.

But I also think I have a problem with academic writing in general – I found that my ideas lack coherence and/or depth (or they’re simply all over the place). I also have problems paraphrasing an author’s words or explaining particular concepts, as well as putting forward my own arguments. Often my teachers comment on how I’m just summarising what these writers are saying. It seems that I’m really terrible at critical analysis.

Everytime I have to do a journal article/literature review, research project or a combination of both, I get extremely anxious. But generally whenever I have to do an assignment, I get anxious, even just reading the subject guide which outlines the assessment tasks for the semester stresses me out.

I’m really tired of making excuses and apologies for having to submit assignments after the due date. I’ve gone to three different counselors in the past about this and I didn’t feel like they were very helpful. I feel like I need a personal academic tutor or something. At the same time, I feel really embarrassed about it. I also think I need to learn how to stand on my own and not rely or depend on other people all the time. Every time I ask help from people and end up getting good marks for a specific task, I feel like the credit’s not mine to take. It doesn’t help that I’m slow and disorganised (mentally and physically)…

I might have to give couseling another shot for this problem is literally starting to drive me insane. I hope what I’ve written here makes sense (I’m almost tempted to discard this comment but I’m going to leave it here because I think I need to get this off my chest).

Many thanks again! 🙂

Hi Anonyme. Many other individuals share your difficulties. Persistence in overcoming the problem is your best bet.

Thanks, John! I really appreciate your comment. (Just realised, I have a few typos on my post, e.g. *I’ve been struggling)

I did not notice any typos.

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I feel so identified with this! I’ve had a big problem sitting down studying since high school, difficulties to find and stick to topics, organize myself and, well, I’m afraid of writing essays. During my undergrads I kind of managed to either hand in on time and get ok grades or hand in late and get (very) good grades. My university didn’t mind, but my sense of self-worth really suffered! I’m not really motivated to hand in some last-minute crap anymore (if I even had something written) when I know that in theory I could do so much better. I do try to sit down early, I love to learn, I love all the academic environment etc. It just doesn’t help. Last autumn I started a Masters, which is really heavy on writing papers and this university is much more strict than my former one. From the beginning I felt inferior (which adds to my anxieties) due to how late I handed in my papers during my undergrads. Result is that until now I haven’t managed to submit even one (of many), am blocked from future courses and scared to be kicked out. Should I talk to someone about it and whom? I always feel that this is my battle that I gotta go through alone and not bother University staff with inappropriate requests :/ In fact, a couple of months ago I contacted my University’s psychologist who sent me to a psychiatrist who told me that I’m lazy, a fake student (procrastinator!), not made for studying and should stop torturing myself and instead look for a job (knowing myself I would do the same in a job). I was supposed to have more consultations but this one crushed me so much (and increased my fears and reduced my self-worth even more) that I promised to myself to battle it alone. Now I have realized that I can’t do this alone and contacted another psychologist, but I don’t know if it’s too late to save my studies, especially since my university doesn’t seem supportive. Anyway, I was so glad to read your post and to know that I’m not the only one suffering through this. I’m determined to win this fight and learn to love my papers, though I don’t yet know how…

Hi Nina. I can sense your frustration. I am glad that you have sought help from another psychologist and that you are working toward overcoming your problem.

You seem to have low self-efficacy about writing essays. The comment you wrote on this blog shows excellent writing ability.

You could try the methods I suggest in my blog. Also, you could read this book and try some of its suggestions: You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life Paperback – April 23, 2013 by Jen Sincero

Best wishes, John

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Wow, I’m feeling anxious just reading these comments. I’m searching for help for my college-age son, who is extremely bright but can barely write a word without intense self-loathing (and I know he inherited that from me).

He’s worked with therapists and tutors but still he suffers to the point where he drops classes if he feels he can’t manage the writing–which is all too often. His last tutor said he needs to be on anxiety medication, but we’re wary of side effects. I’m wondering if anyone’s tried hypnotism?

Hi Worried Mom. He might benefit from using the methods I describe. If those fail, next he could consult a psychologist who provides cognitive-behavioral therapy. After that: a psychiatrist, who might prescribe an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety drug. Hypnotherapy might help, but i wold not bet on it.

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I have an extreme case. I have very unrealistic goals when it comes to essay writing and perfectionism issues. I usually end up doing well in everything like tests and exams except writing essays. I fail courses and have been on academic probation and kicked out of university twice now. Once in 1994 and once now in 2016. My problem is that when it comes to writing an essay, I spend alot of time researching the material and trying to come up with great ideas and a great thesis. I have sleep disturbances during the time when the essay is assigned and due. I do all the leg work but have nothing to show. I can get 70 percent in a course without the essay component that is worth 20 percent of mark. But without handing in the essay, I fail the course.

The very few times that I have handed in my essay, they have been late and I have received penalties. I can’t even say I procrastinate. I have fail of failure and don’t want to hand in a crappy essay but also am plagued with this phobia I guess.

Background is that I have been diagnosed with bipolar since 2004 and am on meds. However, when it’s time to write essays, it effects my sleep and mood. I see people with mediocre grades getting through the programs, not to insult them at the least, while I am failing. I have spent so much time and money and have more than enough credits to have two degrees by now. However, I have none to my name.

I just can’t leave it alone. I love studying and learning and every time I go back to college or university, I think it will be different this time. Somehow, I will be able to hand in the paper even though it is not what is up to “my standard”. I also have a fear of plagiarism as well.

To make the long story short, is there anything you can suggest to help me. My motto seems to be I will die trying. Thanks for reading my comment.

Hi Jane. Your fear of imperfection leads you to fail. Perhaps it is time to view yourself and your writing as imperfect. That is how I think of myself and my writing. With your academic writing, switch your goal from perfect writing to submitting on time. Later you can add the goal of getting a passing grade. Go forward one small step at a time.

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Top 5 Reasons Students Hate to Write

Many students, including homeschoolers, have an aversion to sentence writing, creative writing, journaling, paragraph writing, essay writing, formal writing, informal writing, and basically any kind of writing. Students need step-by-step writing instruction beginning with sentence composition, followed by paragraph composition, and finally college level essay composition to help them learn how to communicate better. But, many don’t understand why they need to learn how to write since they think they will never understand or use writing skills. Students who are not ready or willing to write, but are forced with inadequate writing instruction, tend to develop a hatred for writing and avoid anything to do with writing altogether. So why do students hate writing?

How am I supposed to figure out what the right answer is? Many students approach writing emotionally not understanding that a concrete or right way exists.

Insufficient groundwork manifests insecurity and frustration : Preparation should include a good base of Language Arts, especially basic grammar and spelling that are further strengthened as writing skills are developed. Some students fear they must get everything perfect on the first draft, and shut down because they do not know how to spell a word or compose various sentence structures effectively. A solid writing foundation focuses on the step-by-step process from brainstorming to outlining to composing the rough draft and writing the final copy. The Write Foundation teaches the writing process and structure, complemented by Language Arts basics, to develop healthy overall language usage with skillful writing.

No right answers : If there is more than one right answer, how am I supposed to figure out what the right answer is? Writing is tough for many students to wrap their heads around. Every other skill they learn has a right answer and a right way to do it. Many approach writing emotionally not understanding that a concrete or right way exists. Teaching writing structure for various types of essays and the writing process of brainstorm, outline, rough draft and final copy, gives your students the confidence needed to jump into any writing assignment, even advanced level essays. The Write Foundation provides the tools students need to make essay writing a concrete endeavor which produces confident writers, and in turn, better writers.

  • “Writing is too hard.” For many students, writing requires too much extra effort. Reality check: any major breakthrough in brain development takes extra effort.
  • Students however, need to be mature enough to handle organizing abstract thinking, which happens when most are around 11, 12 or 13.
  • Students are often forced to write and rewrite and rewrite, which exasperates them even more when they are already insecure about what they are doing.

Many times, students react and shut down. Some throw their hands up and quit and some melt down, or they disassociate themselves and stop inputting effort. If you are experiencing Chernobyl with passive or aggressive behavior, find a way for your student to re-connect with writing by breaking it down into bite sized chunks, backing up or slowing down, pinpointing how to bring the essay together. Hold their hand until they shoo you away because their confidence is built.

When students are bored, teaching writing is a like trying to drive a car out of gas; you get nowhere.

Fear of failure. How in the world do I complete this assignment? Writing style? What is that? Am I being graded on everything? These questions and more swarm around in a teen’s mind when they are overwhelmed. Teach them how to write using structure and the writing process. Yes, a variety of writing structures exists, but teach them enough about basic structures so they have something to fall back on when writing anything. The fear of failure fades when students have enough Language Arts basics, guidance for their writing creations, and are beginning to understand how to use writing structure and the writing process. Then they can get to the task at hand and write.

“I’m bored.” Your homeschooler couldn’t stand reading about it and now he has to write about it? When students are bored, teaching writing is a like trying to drive a car out of gas; you get nowhere.    

  • For Mr. Boredom, let him select his topic within your specifications. A more engaging topic will hold his interest longer.
  • When teaching different writing styles, some subjects must be used which will not be your students’ favorite, but avoid making them write about subjects they loathe. Teach them how to write with topics that interest them.
  • Break down the assignment into bite-sized pieces. When tackling an assignment, make the work sessions long enough to make progress, but not so long the brain is drained and shuts down.
  • Make sure your students are working on the correct level. If the assignment is too difficult, they will shut down and claim boredom. If the assignment is too easy, boredom can also be a challenge.

Build self-confidence by backing up and starting where your child can work successfully before diving into their first daunting essay. Mastering fundamentals alleviates writing roadblocks. Regardless of the roadblocks your homeschooler throws in the way of learning how to write, you can find a way to blast through when you identify them as you listen to your child’s concerns. When you open your children’s horizons by helping them to embrace writing, they gain a skill they will use their entire lives.

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  • Why Most Writing Curriculums Fail (and How to Make Sure your Homeschooler Doesn't!)
  • Top Five Reasons Students Hate to Write (and How You can Help!)
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Writing Anxiety

What this handout is about.

This handout discusses the situational nature of writer’s block and other writing anxiety and suggests things you can try to feel more confident and optimistic about yourself as a writer.

What are writing anxiety and writer’s block?

“Writing anxiety” and “writer’s block” are informal terms for a wide variety of apprehensive and pessimistic feelings about writing. These feelings may not be pervasive in a person’s writing life. For example, you might feel perfectly fine writing a biology lab report but apprehensive about writing a paper on a novel. You may confidently tackle a paper about the sociology of gender but delete and start over twenty times when composing an email to a cute classmate to suggest a coffee date. In other words, writing anxiety and writers’ block are situational (Hjortshoj 7). These terms do NOT describe psychological attributes. People aren’t born anxious writers; rather, they become anxious or blocked through negative or difficult experiences with writing.

When do these negative feelings arise?

Although there is a great deal of variation among individuals, there are also some common experiences that writers in general find stressful.

For example, you may struggle when you are:

  • adjusting to a new form of writing—for example, first year college writing, papers in a new field of study, or longer forms than you are used to (a long research paper, a senior thesis, a master’s thesis, a dissertation) (Hjortshoj 56-76).
  • writing for a reader or readers who have been overly critical or demanding in the past.
  • remembering negative criticism received in the past—even if the reader who criticized your work won’t be reading your writing this time.
  • working with limited time or with a lot of unstructured time.
  • responding to an assignment that seems unrelated to academic or life goals.
  • dealing with troubling events outside of school.

What are some strategies for handling these feelings?

Get support.

Choose a writing buddy, someone you trust to encourage you in your writing life. Your writing buddy might be a friend or family member, a classmate, a teacher, a colleague, or a Writing Center tutor. Talk to your writing buddy about your ideas, your writing process, your worries, and your successes. Share pieces of your writing. Make checking in with your writing buddy a regular part of your schedule. When you share pieces of writing with your buddy, use our handout on asking for feedback .

In his book Understanding Writing Blocks, Keith Hjortshoj describes how isolation can harm writers, particularly students who are working on long projects not connected with coursework (134-135). He suggests that in addition to connecting with supportive individuals, such students can benefit from forming or joining a writing group, which functions in much the same way as a writing buddy. A group can provide readers, deadlines, support, praise, and constructive criticism. For help starting one, see our handout about writing groups .

Identify your strengths

Often, writers who are experiencing block or anxiety have a worse opinion of their own writing than anyone else! Make a list of the things you do well. You might ask a friend or colleague to help you generate such a list. Here are some possibilities to get you started:

  • I explain things well to people.
  • I get people’s interest.
  • I have strong opinions.
  • I listen well.
  • I am critical of what I read.
  • I see connections.

Choose at least one strength as your starting point. Instead of saying “I can’t write,” say “I am a writer who can …”

Recognize that writing is a complex process

Writing is an attempt to fix meaning on the page, but you know, and your readers know, that there is always more to be said on a topic. The best writers can do is to contribute what they know and feel about a topic at a particular point in time.

Writers often seek “flow,” which usually entails some sort of breakthrough followed by a beautifully coherent outpouring of knowledge. Flow is both a possibility—most people experience it at some point in their writing lives—and a myth. Inevitably, if you write over a long period of time and for many different situations, you will encounter obstacles. As Hjortshoj explains, obstacles are particularly common during times of transition—transitions to new writing roles or to new kinds of writing.

Think of yourself as an apprentice.

If block or apprehension is new for you, take time to understand the situations you are writing in. In particular, try to figure out what has changed in your writing life. Here are some possibilities:

  • You are writing in a new format.
  • You are writing longer papers than before.
  • You are writing for new audiences.
  • You are writing about new subject matter.
  • You are turning in writing from different stages of the writing process—for example, planning stages or early drafts.

It makes sense to have trouble when dealing with a situation for the first time. It’s also likely that when you confront these new situations, you will learn and grow. Writing in new situations can be rewarding. Not every format or audience will be right for you, but you won’t know which ones might be right until you try them. Think of new writing situations as apprenticeships. When you’re doing a new kind of writing, learn as much as you can about it, gain as many skills in that area as you can, and when you finish the apprenticeship, decide which of the skills you learned will serve you well later on. You might be surprised.

Below are some suggestions for how to learn about new kinds of writing:

  • Ask a lot of questions of people who are more experienced with this kind of writing. Here are some of the questions you might ask: What’s the purpose of this kind of writing? Who’s the audience? What are the most important elements to include? What’s not as important? How do you get started? How do you know when what you’ve written is good enough? How did you learn to write this way?
  • Ask a lot of questions of the person who assigned you a piece of writing. If you have a paper, the best place to start is with the written assignment itself. For help with this, see our handout on understanding assignments .
  • Look for examples of this kind of writing. (You can ask your instructor for a recommended example). Look, especially, for variation. There are often many different ways to write within a particular form. Look for ways that feel familiar to you, approaches that you like. You might want to look for published models or, if this seems too intimidating, look at your classmates’ writing. In either case, ask yourself questions about what these writers are doing, and take notes. How does the writer begin and end? In what order does the writer tell things? How and when does the writer convey her or his main point? How does the writer bring in other people’s ideas? What is the writer’s purpose? How is that purpose achieved?
  • Read our handouts about how to write in specific fields or how to handle specific writing assignments.
  • Listen critically to your readers. Before you dismiss or wholeheartedly accept what they say, try to understand them. If a reader has given you written comments, ask yourself questions to figure out the reader’s experience of your paper: What is this reader looking for? What am I doing that satisfies this reader? In what ways is this reader still unsatisfied? If you can’t answer these questions from the reader’s comments, then talk to the reader, or ask someone else to help you interpret the comments.
  • Most importantly, don’t try to do everything at once. Start with reasonable expectations. You can’t write like an expert your first time out. Nobody does! Use the criticism you get.

Once you understand what readers want, you are in a better position to decide what to do with their criticisms. There are two extreme possibilities—dismissing the criticisms and accepting them all—but there is also a lot of middle ground. Figure out which criticisms are consistent with your own purposes, and do the hard work of engaging with them. Again, don’t expect an overnight turn-around; recognize that changing writing habits is a process and that papers are steps in the process.

Chances are that at some point in your writing life you will encounter readers who seem to dislike, disagree with, or miss the point of your work. Figuring out what to do with criticism from such readers is an important part of a writer’s growth.

Try new tactics when you get stuck

Often, writing blocks occur at particular stages of the writing process. The writing process is cyclical and variable. For different writers, the process may include reading, brainstorming, drafting, getting feedback, revising, and editing. These stages do not always happen in this order, and once a writer has been through a particular stage, chances are she or he hasn’t seen the last of that stage. For example, brainstorming may occur all along the way.

Figure out what your writing process looks like and whether there’s a particular stage where you tend to get stuck. Perhaps you love researching and taking notes on what you read, and you have a hard time moving from that work to getting started on your own first draft. Or once you have a draft, it seems set in stone and even though readers are asking you questions and making suggestions, you don’t know how to go back in and change it. Or just the opposite may be true; you revise and revise and don’t want to let the paper go.

Wherever you have trouble, take a longer look at what you do and what you might try. Sometimes what you do is working for you; it’s just a slow and difficult process. Other times, what you do may not be working; these are the times when you can look around for other approaches to try:

  • Talk to your writing buddy and to other colleagues about what they do at the particular stage that gets you stuck.
  • Read about possible new approaches in our handouts on brainstorming and revising .
  • Try thinking of yourself as an apprentice to a stage of the writing process and give different strategies a shot.
  • Cut your paper into pieces and tape them to the wall, use eight different colors of highlighters, draw a picture of your paper, read your paper out loud in the voice of your favorite movie star….

Okay, we’re kind of kidding with some of those last few suggestions, but there is no limit to what you can try (for some fun writing strategies, check out our online animated demos ). When it comes to conquering a block, give yourself permission to fall flat on your face. Trying and failing will you help you arrive at the thing that works for you.

Celebrate your successes

Start storing up positive experiences with writing. Whatever obstacles you’ve faced, celebrate the occasions when you overcome them. This could be something as simple as getting started, sharing your work with someone besides a teacher, revising a paper for the first time, trying out a new brainstorming strategy, or turning in a paper that has been particularly challenging for you. You define what a success is for you. Keep a log or journal of your writing successes and breakthroughs, how you did it, how you felt. This log can serve as a boost later in your writing life when you face new challenges.

Wait a minute, didn’t we already say that? Yes. It’s worth repeating. Most people find relief for various kinds of anxieties by getting support from others. Sometimes the best person to help you through a spell of worry is someone who’s done that for you before—a family member, a friend, a mentor. Maybe you don’t even need to talk with this person about writing; maybe you just need to be reminded to believe in yourself, that you can do it.

If you don’t know anyone on campus yet whom you have this kind of relationship with, reach out to someone who seems like they could be a good listener and supportive. There are a number of professional resources for you on campus, people you can talk through your ideas or your worries with. A great place to start is the UNC Writing Center. If you know you have a problem with writing anxiety, make an appointment well before the paper is due. You can come to the Writing Center with a draft or even before you’ve started writing. You can also approach your instructor with questions about your writing assignment. If you’re an undergraduate, your academic advisor and your residence hall advisor are other possible resources. Counselors at Counseling and Wellness Services are also available to talk with you about anxieties and concerns that extend beyond writing.

Apprehension about writing is a common condition on college campuses. Because writing is the most common means of sharing our knowledge, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves when we write. This handout has given some suggestions for how to relieve that pressure. Talk with others; realize we’re all learning; take an occasional risk; turn to the people who believe in you. Counter negative experiences by actively creating positive ones.

Even after you have tried all of these strategies and read every Writing Center handout, invariably you will still have negative experiences in your writing life. When you get a paper back with a bad grade on it or when you get a rejection letter from a journal, fend off the negative aspects of that experience. Try not to let them sink in; try not to let your disappointment fester. Instead, jump right back in to some area of the writing process: choose one suggestion the evaluator has made and work on it, or read and discuss the paper with a friend or colleague, or do some writing or revising—on this or any paper—as quickly as possible.

Failures of various kinds are an inevitable part of the writing process. Without them, it would be difficult if not impossible to grow as a writer. Learning often occurs in the wake of a startling event, something that stirs you up, something that makes you wonder. Use your failures to keep moving.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Hjortshoj, Keith. 2001. Understanding Writing Blocks . New York: Oxford University Press.

This is a particularly excellent resource for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Hjortshoj writes about his experiences working with university students experiencing block. He explains the transitional nature of most writing blocks and the importance of finding support from others when working on long projects.

Rose, Mike. 1985. When a Writer Can’t Write: Studies in Writer’s Block and Other Composing-Process Problems . New York: Guilford.

This collection of empirical studies is written primarily for writing teachers, researchers, and tutors. Studies focus on writers of various ages, including young children, high school students, and college students.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • How to Improve Your Essay Writing Quickly: A Step-by-Step Guide

About the Author Stephanie Allen read Classics and English at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and is currently researching a PhD in Early Modern Academic Drama at the University of Fribourg.

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Whatever your brand of brilliance – whether you’re a physics genius, a sporting hero or (like me) a blinky, bookish type – there comes a point in most students’ academic careers when being good at life means being good at essays.

You should also read…

  • Focus and Precision: How to Write Essays That Answer the Question
  • How to Conquer Your Nightmare Subjects

As the subjects you study get more advanced and complex, you’re increasingly asked to think, evaluate, and have opinions where you once might have simply made calculations or learned definitions. In general, the further you progress through your education, the more rote learning will be replaced by the kind of analysis usually best demonstrated by essays. If by some miraculous feat you manage to avoid writing anything substantial at high school, it’s something you’ll almost certainly have to face at university – yes, even if you’re studying a science subject (although the essays won’t usually be quite as long). One way or another, essay writing comes to us all.

Image shows the silhouette of a runner against the setting sun.

The likelihood is that at some point in the not-too-distant future (unless you are both incredibly reluctant and startlingly resourceful) you will have to write an essay, either in exam conditions or in your own time, that will count towards a final grade in some way. If this is a scary prospect for you, there’s good news and bad news. The bad thing about essay writing is that it’s not something – like French verbs, or the ability to run long distances – that miraculously gets better on its own if you just keep having a go. To improve at essay writing, students often need a paradigm shift: to figure out exactly what isn’t working, and why, and to learn and apply a new way of doing things. The good news, on the other hand, is that the individual skills required to write a strong essay are things you can learn, practise and improve in. This article is all about pinpointing what those skills might be, and giving you some suggestions as to how you might develop them. Not all these tips will work for all of you, but being good at essay writing, like being good at any other school-related discipline, is all about trying different things, and devising your own way of doing things.

Getting organised

Image shows the wood-panelled old library at Merton College, Oxford.

Before you even start planning an essay, I’d recommend you sit down and have a quick think about how you want to do it. First, what resources will you need? The internet, or library books? This might affect where and how you decide to work: I have wasted a huge amount of time trying to find versions of articles on the internet that I knew were in books at the library, or procrastinating because I wanted to work at home rather than leaving the house. I would recommend taking yourself to a library ninety-nine times out of a hundred. Secondly, if you’re working from books or downloadable articles, can you afford to work somewhere without the internet? The absence of Facebook and Instagram will guarantee your concentration will be about a hundred times better, which will show in the quality of your work. Next, make a little timeline for your essay. Make a list of everything you want to read and try to get hold of all your material before you start. Think about how long you’re going to spend reading and researching, planning, and writing – leaving a day or two before the deadline to make any significant changes, or just in case things don’t go to plan. I’d recommend allotting 3 hours to read a 20-page article, and about a day to write 2000 words. This might sound like a silly amount of planning, but the point of it is this: hundreds of all-nighters have taught me that essay-writing becomes incredibly stressful and painful when you’re up against the clock, and a reader can tell immediately if something is rushed or dashed off at 2am on the day of the deadline. What’s more, you simply won’t have your best creative ideas under pressure. If you’ve got time, have a look at this – comically eighties and slightly cringey – video about creativity . A lot of what the speaker says about thinking and playfulness is, in my opinion, directly applicable to essay-writing.

Gathering information

Image shows rows of bookshelves in a library.

Some teachers set reading lists for essays, or make suggestions about where students should look for information; others ask you to find sources yourself. Even if your teacher does prescribe reading, it’s always worth seeing whether you can find something extra that will add breadth, depth or a fresh perspective to your argument. However, it’s important to think carefully about whether a source is reliable and valuable.

What sort of sources should I use?

The most appropriate sources will vary from subject to subject. Here are some common ones: – Academic articles: These are essays by scholars at universities, and usually published in journals or as books. They are always useful, and can be found by looking in the library (ask your teacher for recommendations!), having a poke around Google Scholar, or, if your school has a subscription, on the website JSTOR.org. Search for key words and phrases and see what comes up. – Newspaper articles: might be useful evidence for an essay in History, but may not be detailed or scholarly enough for Biology. If you use a newspaper article or opinion piece, think about the factors that might bias it and include your thinking in your essay! – Wikipedia: a very useful starting-point, and an increasingly reliable resource. However, avoid referencing it: a teacher or examiner might not like it and may take against your essay. Instead, look at the reference section at the bottom of the article and see where the writer has gathered their information from. – Online blogs: in general, stay away from these, as you don’t know who’s written them and how valuable their opinion is, or how reliable their facts. The exceptions are blogs by well-known experts.

How should I take notes?

Image shows rows of bookshelves in a library.

It might feel like the world’s greatest faff, but taking good notes from your sources will save you a huge amount of time when you come to plan and write your essay: – Type out notes as you read, rather than simply underlining or highlighting – thus you’ll have a summary of the most important chunks of essays ready to use when you plan, rather than having to trawl through whole documents again looking for quotations. – For this reason, if you think you might want to quote something, copy it out in the exact wording of the writer. – Type notes in a different colour for each new source you read. In order to engage intelligently with what you’ve read, you’ve got to remember who said what, what they meant by it, who they were fighting against and whether you agreed with them or not. Colours are a really helpful visual aid to doing this. – At the end of each new essay or article, write a few lines summarising the author’s main points, and whether or not you agree with them. N.B. Your critical engagement with the scholars and authors whose work you’ve read will count for a huge chunk of marks. This does not mean listing a load of names and rehearsing their arguments; nor does it mean disagreeing with everyone for the sake of it. Instead, think about whether or not what they’re arguing holds true in your experience – or compare them to each other.

Image shows an old map, covered in pictures of monsters.

Planning is the single most important step in writing a good essay, and, frustratingly, also the step that’s most often rushed or neglected by students. If your essays often get criticised for having poor structure or unclear lines of argument, chances are you need to practise your planning. I use the following step-by-step process to turn my notes into a good plan; you can try it too, and see if it works for you. 1) Re-read your notes a couple of times, and underline anything you think is particularly important, interesting, or relevant to the area of the topic you want to discuss. As far as possible, try and organise your thoughts into sections, and see if you can link ideas together. Tip: It might be that you’ve got two or three different ideas for a topic, and you’re not sure which to go with: in this case, you can use a couple of different spider diagrams to see which works best. Where do the ideas link together most easily, or fall together into neat sections? Which question would you be able to answer most fully? 2) Sit back and look at your diagram(s), perhaps alongside your notes, and work out the main ‘point’ or conclusion you want to make in your essay. The best essays are characterised by a clear line of argument throughout – I don’t really buy the idea that essays should present both sides of a question. I always decide what I’m trying to say ; the point I want to conclude with, before I start. Now, the job you’ve got in writing the essay is to set this conclusion up. 3) Work backwards, using the links you’ve made on your spider diagram: what do you need to argue or show to make your point? Jot these ‘points’ down in a couple of words each. This forms the beginnings of a skeleton for your essay. 4) Start to fill out your skeleton with information from your notes, and any extra ideas you might have. If you’re writing a literature essay, it’s CRUCIAL that you include some close analysis of passages to support your argument. Jot down the sentences that link these in to the greater structure. 5) Fill out your skeleton more and more, until it’s essentially a rough draft in bullet points. Every twist or nuance of your argument should be in there; every introductory and concluding sentence for every paragraph, making it explicit how this paragraph answers your question.

Image shows a woman with her two daughters on either side of her, reading an essay that one of them is presenting to her.

6) At this point, it’s very helpful if you can get someone (a friend or a parent will do) to read over your plan and see if it makes sense. Does everything follow? Is it all relevant? Your plan should be so complete that the person who reads it will immediately be able to spot any flaws. Move things around, add or delete to incorporate their criticism: it’s much easier to change something in bullet-point format than when it’s all written out properly. Don’t expect this process to be quick or easy. For a 1500-word essay, I usually write a plan of about three sides, and spend at least three hours making sure that before I put pen to paper, every kink in my argument is ironed out. The pay-off of doing it this way is that the writing process is short and easy – a case of joining up the dots, polishing bullet-points into sentences – much better than coming up with ideas and organising thoughts at the same time as finding the words to express them. Get better and better: If you struggle with structure or clarity, practise your planning! Give yourself a limited amount of time (say, two hours), pick three previous essay questions from an exam or coursework paper, and plan your answers as thoroughly as possible. Get your teacher to look over your plans when you’re done.

The ‘actual writing’-bit can be the most daunting and stressful part of the essay process, and is where most students get stuck. Here are some tried-and-tested solutions to common writing problems:

I can’t get started

Image shows someone tapping a yellow pencil on a blank page.

It’s quite common to want your first sentence to be arresting, paradigm-shifting, to propel your reader headlong into your essay. However, this desire can be paralysing: one of the most stressful feelings in the world is that of staring at a blank page, thinking about the number of words you’ll need to fill it all up. The key to getting started is to just write something . Don’t worry about how good it is – get it down, and move on, and come back and change it when you’re well into your flow.

Writers’ block

Go back to your plan and make sure you know what you’re arguing. If you still can’t get the words out, try and write down what you want to say as simply as possible. Then move on to an easier section of the essay. Alternatively, you can try going for a walk, making a cup of tea or having a break.

It all feels a bit wrong…

Sometimes, in the process of writing, you’ll realise that you entirely disagree with two-days-ago you, and you don’t really believe in the argument you’re trying to make. If it is the case, go back to the drawing board. Don’t plough on regardless – a lack of conviction will show in your essay. Return to your plan, and see if you can use similar material but change the emphasis, and perhaps the odd bit of evidence, to produce a different argument.

Everyone has their own individual writing style: your might be as purple and flowery, or scientific and direct as you like (within reason). However you write, to get top marks, it’s crucial that you learn to be precise .

Style-wise, there are two poles of wrongness: vagueness, and over-complication. Of course, every subject has its particular vocabulary, and learning this will be crucial, and sharpen your analysis; but remember that little words are your friends too! Make sure that you know the exact meaning of each word you use. Crucially, make sure you know exactly what each word you’re using means, and think carefully about whether you’re applying it in the right context – remember that whoever is reading your essay will know better than you the meanings of zeugma, stagflation or symbiosis. Finally, don’t hide behind subject-specific vocabulary: make sure that you’re using terms to contribute to and develop your essay, and nothing of the flow is lost.

The boring stuff

– Get good at conventions like footnoting, and writing bibliographies. Examiners really do check these! – When you’ve finished, leave the essay for a day or two, and then re-read it. If possible, get someone to proofread for you. This way, you’ll avoid making lots of silly mistakes that threaten the clarity and flow of your essay.

Image credits: banner ; runner ; old library ; new library ; pens ; map ; parent ; tapping pencil ; egg . 

why do i hate writing essays

Top 10 Reasons Why College Students Hate Writing Essays

If you hate writing essays, you're not alone. Essays are usually time-consuming, dull, and tiresome to write. That's why I used to ask my dorm neighbor to write them for me instead of spending nights trying to put some wise words on a page. Not all of us are born talented writers, and some of us won't even need strong writing skills in the future. In this article, I decided to dig deep to understand what makes us, students, hate writing essays.

Many students try to avoid writing tasks at all costs and don’t like to write essays and other assignments. Some even decide to buy essays online instead writing them by themselves.

Quite often, the reason is that writing can take a lot of time, and students are too overloaded to be able to allocate some time to create a comprehensive college essay.

Students are used to consuming content, switching between tasks, and communicating at an increasingly high pace. Writing and researching require them to be able to focus on the task in hand, which can be challenging by itself.

Given that academic writing is demanding and time-consuming, there’s no surprise that so few high school students are ready for college. In 2019, as much as 41% of students who took the ACT were unable to write at a college level.

Proper writing is almost impossible to imagine without proper reading, and this is another area of struggle for many students. According to statistics, only 29% of 8th graders demonstrate proficiency in reading. Obviously, most students come to college unprepared for the writing tasks they will need to deal with. This isn’t, however, the only reason why students hate writing papers. If you're a student who's wondering why you hate writing essays, you're not alone.

Why Students Hate to Write College Essays

Students don’t feel that writing is necessary.

Perhaps, one of the most common reasons why students don’t like and don’t want to write is that they don’t understand how they can benefit from writing. They don’t feel that they need to write essays, and they don’t think that this experience will be useful for their future careers.

Of course, writing essays is a great task for students who are majoring in English. Other students, however, might find essay writing irrelevant, and it’s hard to blame them for it. There are many professions that don’t require writing skills. For instance, those who study business, mathematics, computer science, or other technical disciplines, won’t need writing in their careers.

Writing Feels Uncomfortable

Many students also hate writing because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Usually, this happens because students are unprepared and unconfident. One of the main reasons why students are unprepared is that high schools simply fail at teaching students the necessary skills. However, students may also need to practice more.

Topics of Essays Don’t Feel Relevant

It’s hard to invest your effort if you’re not actually interested in what you do. Quite often, students are unmotivated because the topics of their essays are not interesting to them. This problem is caused by both students who don’t want to broaden their knowledge and by educators who fail to adjust assignments to the student’s real-life needs and interests.

Editing Takes a Lot of Time

Quite often, students forget that the writing process involves writing more than one draft. To get a good result, students need to edit their drafts, polishing their grammar, and improving the sentence structure. Proofreading and editing can be very time-consuming, so students also need to plan the writing process properly.

Not only do you need to polish your papers, but you may also need to make changes to your essays because of your instructor. Instructors often demand revisions so students should always take into account the editing process when planning their writing process.

There’s No Right Answer

Quite often, essay writing implies that an author should provide an answer to a certain question. Sometimes, it can be quite an easy task because some answers can be obvious. What’s even more important is that some questions can only have one possible answer.

When students cannot choose the right answer from among many options, writing an essay can be extremely challenging. In this case, one of the most effective approaches is to evaluate all answers from different perspectives and to clarify the task by talking to the instructor.

Writing Feels Boring

As I've already mentioned above, writing can be boring for students because of irrelevant topics. Therefore, one of the best ways to fix this problem is to assign essays on topics that are interesting and actually useful for students.

Besides, the writing process can be boring when students are not used to using the right style. In this case, if students want writing to be less boring, they can simply practice more. This way, writing will feel completely natural, and students will be able to dedicate more of their attention to creativity.

Writing is Subjective

When you need to provide an answer to a question or to come up with a persuasive argument, one of the main challenges is to make your writing resonate with the audience. Quite often, essay writing is very subjective. Besides, your only audience might be your teacher. To make sure that your essay will be appreciated, you should clarify all the details of the assignment before writing. You may also talk to your teacher to better understand their opinion on the subject.

Fear of Failure

Students also don’t like to write essays because they simply don’t want to fail. Making an essay perfect in terms of grammar isn’t the only challenge students face. College essays also require students to choose the right structure and the right style.

On the one hand, educators should teach students everything they need to know to create good essays. On the other hand, students shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions. When you know exactly what is expected from you, it becomes much easier to fulfill the requirements and to deliver a decent essay.

The Lack of Time

Last but not least, many students hate writing papers because they simply don’t have enough time. Writing and editing can take a lot of time, and college students are often overwhelmed with writing assignments. Of course, this problem should be solved by educators. They should be realistic about students’ capabilities and keep in mind that many students have part-time jobs or need to take care of their families.

Students, however, can also tackle this problem by properly managing their time and planning the writing process. I think that instructors should always keep in mind that writing may take more time than you expect and don’t start to work on your essays when you have little time left before the deadline.

Some Students Have Poor Grammar Skills

As we’ve already mentioned above, many students go to college unprepared. Their grammar skills are not developed enough to enable students to produce high-quality essays. Not only is it a problem by itself, but it also discourages students from writing their essays because nobody likes to look stupid.

Quite often, even students who have decent writing skills feel so insecure that they don’t even want to try. Obviously, colleges need to teach students high standards of writing. Educators, however, should explain that the learning process is impossible without mistakes so that students won’t be afraid to give their best shot.

Students hate writing essays for different reasons. There are many issues that should be solved by educators. For example, they should consider students’ interests and professional needs when creating assignments. Moreover, not all students will need writing in the future so there’s no surprise that they don’t want to waste their time on such tasks.

Writing can also be quite difficult. In this case, practicing can help. Besides, we recommend that students put more effort into effective time-management and communication so that they will know exactly what to do and won’t stress out because of the lack of time.

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I’d like comment on the lack of time issue. Many adults are going back to school for various reasons, especially with covid costing jobs. So, instead of a young 20 year old trying to write essays when they have a part time job or are helping to care for family, we have married parents with full time jobs and 3 or 4 kids at home. I am glad there are a few schools who understand this, but many don’t try very hard to accommodate students in their 30s and 40s. I have a teenager, a 2nd grader, and a preschooler at home and I work 40 hours a week. I also home school my teen. Time is definitely an issue.

Further reading

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Understanding Why Students Avoid Writing

On this page:, skill development, overall guidelines to help students avoid the avoidance of writing.

It is common for students in today’s educational system to dislike and/or avoid the writing process. Many students feel writing takes too long. For some, writing is a very laborious task because there are so many sub-components which need to be pulled together. For others, the reason lies in some processing difficulties, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia . Some educators wonder if students no longer enjoy the slower, more refined process of written communication because they spend so much time watching the faster-paced visual modality of television.

Students with learning problems, even those who read well, frequently submit written work which is brief and/or difficult to read. Such students can be victims of misunderstandings, a problem which becomes much more pronounced at the secondary level. “Accusations of laziness, poor motivation, and a reprehensible attitude are often directed toward deficit writers. The results can be a serious loss of incentive, a generalized academic disenchantment and demoralization” (Levine 1998, 363).

There are many reasons students avoid writing. Primary reasons may be one or more of the following:

  • They have a hard time getting started and feel overwhelmed by the task.
  • They need to concentrate to form letters: it is not an automatic process.
  • They struggle to organize and use mechanics of writing.
  • They are slow and inefficient in retrieving the right word(s) to express an idea.
  • They struggle to develop their ideas fluently (poor ideation).
  • They struggle to keep track of their thoughts while also getting them down on paper.
  • They feel that the process of writing on paper is slow and tedious.
  • They feel that the paper never turns out the way they want.
  • They realize that the paper is still sloppy even though substantial time and effort were spent.
  • They are dysgraphic, which causes multiple struggles at the basic processing levels.
  • They are dyslexic, which causes very poor spelling and interferes with automatic use of writing mechanics.

As parents and teachers, we can help students deal with their lack of enjoyment of the writing process and also with poor skill development. The techniques are twofold. Students need to:

  • develop a greater understanding of and appreciation for the purpose of writing.
  • develop more efficient skills.

When students have a combination of this understanding and the skills, they are then free to apply techniques and abilities in a wide range of situations. This is especially true and necessary for dyslexic and/or dysgraphic students who are compensating for processing inefficiencies in the language domain.

This graphic represents the necessary steps in developing writing skills. These steps are in a hierarchy: if a student has too many gaps in one (or more) of the lower levels, then the top levels may be shaky and unstable.

The underlying processing skills involve development in a variety of memory, motor, and language areas. Examples include:

  • Physical components of writing
  • Speed of motor performance
  • Active working memory
  • Language formulation and ideation

The mechanical skills involve lower level tasks such as automatic letter form, use of space, basic spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. More mature mechanics involve speed, clarity of expression, and appropriate grammar.

The content skills relate to organizing and expressing ideas. The upper level skills include:

  • Writing using different writing styles
  • Being flexible in the writing process
  • Understanding the viewpoint of the reader
  • Writing with enthusiasm

There are many reasons a student may avoid writing, but most relate to the concept that writing is not fun or enjoyable. When writing is not meaningful, it is difficult to pull together the variety of skills needed to develop enthusiasm about writing. Students learn to write by writing, which then gives them the confidence to continue to write and continue to develop their skills. Using a variety of modalities can help create enthusiasm for writing and help students view writing as a more meaningful activity.

It is also important to analyze the lower level skills to ensure that the student has appropriately developed automaticity in these skills. When students are frustrated with individual components related to the task of writing and/or when they struggle to get started or to keep track of their thoughts, then the writing process is not fun, and their lack of enthusiasm becomes evident. Writing remains at the level of drudgery no matter how exciting the topic and students may feel threatened by the process of writing.

The goal for these students is to reduce the frustration, struggles, and feeling of threat. Increasing automaticity of skills is required to increase overall writing automaticity for a student. When automaticity, as developed by metacognitive awareness of the writing process and use of specific strategies, is combined with skill development and bypass strategies, the student should be able to deal with the vast majority of written expression tasks. The next step is to integrate purpose and meaning to generate fun and lead to enthusiasm for writing.

Jerome Elkind (The Lexia Institute, Los Altos, CA) “Computer Reading Machines for Poor Readers.” Charles A. MacArthur, Ph.D. (University of Delaware) “Assistive Technology for Writing.” Marshall H. Raskind, Ph.D. (The Frostig Center, Pasadena, CA) “Assistive Technology for Individuals with Learning Disabilities: How Far Have We Come?” Thomas G. West (Visualization Research, Washington, D.C.) “Words to Images: Technological Change Redefines Educational Goals.” Marshall H. Raskind, Ph.D. and Toby Shaw, M.A. (The Frostig Center, Pasadena, CA) “Assistive Technology for Persons with Learning Disabilities: Product Resource List.”

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Acosta, Simone and Richards, Regina G. "Cursive Writing: A Multisensory Approach," in 1999 So. California Consortium Resource Directory , International Dyslexia Association, www.retctrpress.com.

Levine, Melvin D. Developmental Variation and Learning Disorders, 2nd ed., www.epsbooks.com.

Levine, Melvin D. Educational Care: A System for Understanding and Helping Children with Learning Problems at Home and in School , www.epsbooks.com.

Richards, Regina G. The Source for Dyslexia and Dysgraphia , East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, 800/PRO-IDEA.

Richards, Regina G. When Writing's A Problem , Riverside, RET Center Press, www.retctrpress.com.

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The End of the College Essay

E verybody in college hates papers. Students hate writing them so much that they buy , borrow , or steal them instead. Plagiarism is now so commonplace that if we flunked every kid who did it, we’d have a worse attrition rate than a MOOC . And on those rare occasions undergrads do deign to compose their own essays, said exegetic masterpieces usually take them all of half an hour at 4 a.m. to write, and consist accordingly of “arguments” that are at best tangentially related to the coursework, font-manipulated to meet the minimum required page-count. Oh, “attitudes about cultures have changed over time”? I’m so glad you let me know.

Nobody hates writing papers as much as college instructors hate grading papers (and no, having a robot do it is not the answer). Students of the world: You think it wastes 45 minutes of your sexting time to pluck out three quotes from The Sun Also Rises , summarize the same four plot points 50 times until you hit Page 5, and then crap out a two-sentence conclusion? It wastes 15 hours of my time to mark up my students’ flaccid theses and non sequitur textual “evidence,” not to mention abuse of the comma that should be punishable by some sort of law—all so that you can take a cursory glance at the grade and then chuck the paper forever.

What’s more, if your average college-goer does manage to read through her professor’s comments, she will likely view them as a grievous insult to her entire person, abject proof of how this cruel, unfeeling instructor hates her . That sliver of the student population that actually reads comments and wants to discuss them? They’re kids whose papers are good to begin with, and often obsessed with their GPAs. I guarantee you that every professor you know has given an A to a B paper just to keep a grade-grubber off her junk. (Not talking to you, current students! You’re all magnificent, and going to be president someday. Please do not email me.)

When I was growing up, my mother—who, like me, was a “ contingent ” professor—would sequester herself for days to grade, emerging Medusa-haired and demanding of sympathy. But the older I got, the more that sympathy dissipated: “If you hate grading papers so much,” I’d say, “there’s an easy solution for that.” My mother, not to be trifled with when righteously indignant (that favored state of the professoriate), would snap: “It’s an English class . I can’t not assign papers .”

Mom, friends, educators, students: We don’t have to assign papers, and we should stop. We need to admit that the required-course college essay is a failure. The baccalaureate is the new high-school diploma : abjectly necessary for any decent job in the cosmos. As such, students (and their parents) view college as professional training , an unpleasant necessity en route to that all-important “ piece of paper .” Today’s vocationally minded students view World Lit 101 as forced labor, an utter waste of their time that deserves neither engagement nor effort. So you know what else is a waste of time? Grading these students’ effing papers . It’s time to declare unconditional defeat.

Most students enter college barely able to string three sentences together—and they leave it that way, too. With protracted effort and a rhapsodically engaged instructor, some may learn to craft a clunky but competent essay somewhere along the way. But who cares? My fellow humanists insist valiantly that (among other more elevated reasons) writing humanities papers leads to the crafting of sharp argumentative skills, and thus a lifetime of success in a number of fields in which we have no relevant experience. But my friends who actually work in such fields assure me that most of their colleagues are borderline-illiterate. After all, Mark Zuckerberg’s pre-Facebook Friendster profile bragged “i don’t read” ( sic ), and look at him.

Of course it would be better for humanity if college in the United States actually required a semblance of adult writing competency. But I have tried everything . I held a workshop dedicated to avoiding vague introductions (“The idea and concept of the duality of sin and righteousness has been at the forefront of our understanding of important concepts since the beginning of time.”) The result was papers that started with two incoherent sentences that had nothing to do with each other. I tried removing the introduction and conclusion altogether, and asking for a three-paragraph miniessay with a specific argument—what I got read like One Direction fan fiction .

I’ve graded drafts and assigned rewrites, and that helps the good students get better, but the bad students, the ones I’m trying to help , just fail to turn in any drafts at all. Meanwhile, I come up for air and realize that with all this extra grading, I’m making 75 cents an hour.

I’m not calling for the end of all papers—just the end of papers in required courses. Some students actually like writing, and let those blessed young souls be English majors, and expound on George Eliot and Virginia Woolf to their hearts’ content, and grow up to become writers, huzzah. But for the common good, leave everyone else out of it.  

Instead of essays, required humanities courses (which I support, for all the reasons William Cronon , Martha Nussbaum , and Paulo Freire give) should return to old-school, hardcore exams, written and oral . You cannot bullshit a line-ID. Nor can you get away with only having read one page of the book when your professor is staring you down with a serious question. And best of all, oral exams barely need grading: If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it is immediately and readily manifest (not to mention, it’s profoundly schadenfroh when a student has to look me in the face and admit he’s done no work).

Plus, replacing papers with rigorous, old-school, St. John’s -style tribulations also addresses an issue humanities-haters love to belabor: Paper-grading is so subjective , and paper-writing so easy to fake, that this gives the humanities their unfortunate reputation as imprecise , feelings-centered disciplines where there are “no right answers.” So let’s start requiring some right answers.

Sure, this quashes the shallow pretense of expecting undergraduates to engage in thoughtful analysis, but they have already proven that they will go to any lengths to avoid doing this. Call me a defeatist, but honestly I’d be happy if a plurality of American college students could discern even the skeletal plot of anything they were assigned. With more exams and no papers, they’ll at least have a shot at retaining, just for a short while, the basic facts of some of the greatest stories ever recorded. In that short while, they may even develop the tiniest inkling of what Martha Nussbaum calls “sympathetic imagination”—the cultivation of our own humanity, and something that unfolds when we’re touched by stories of people who are very much unlike us. And that, frankly, is more than any essay will ever do for them.

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How to Stop Hating Writing (and Actually Get Kinda Good)

Shannon Johnson

Updated: July 28, 2017

Published: January 14, 2014

Words are hard for me. They've always been hard for me. Sometimes, I hate them because I can't seem to string them together in a way that makes sense and reads well and  makes the reader feel something.

why do i hate writing essays

I'm not the only one who feels this way -- I even bet there are plenty of times when  you probably feel this way. That's because w riting well doesn’t come easy for most. It doesn't even come easy for Corey Eridon , the Senior Editor of this blog -- and she's written hundreds of articles on this thing!

According to Corey, "There are a million reasons we marketers find it hard to write: It’s not our job. We just don’t like it. We haven’t done it in forever. We’re better with numbers. The list goes on, but all these reasons are BS."

She's convinced every marketer can write, which is why she recently wrote The Marketer's Pocket Guide to Writing Good  --   a practical and inspirational guide to have handy when you're really struggling to complete one sentence after another. 

Since Corey and I aren't the only marketers who struggle with writing, I thought I'd reach out to other marketers for their writing advice and stories about how they got past the hump of hating writing in order to actually get kinda good at it. 

Check out their two cents below, and then grab your own copy of  The Marketer's Pocket Guide to Writing Good . Oh, and then go write something!

Corey Eridon , Senior Blog Editor at HubSpot, on Writing When You Hate Writing

"I hated writing -- and still hate writing -- when I feel like I have to put on an affected persona. Whenever I'm feeling deep vitriol ... like, just unabashed hatred for something I'm writing ... I go into lose-the-bullshit mode. I stop trying to sound like someone else or freaking out about what I think readers and my boss want to hear from me. Not only is it way easier to write when you're being yourself, but you can also actually look yourself in the mirror and say, 'Hey, that thing you spent all your time on today wasn't a complete lie,' and be proud of what you put out at the end of the day." 

Beth Dunn , User Experience Editor at HubSpot, on Persevering Till You Get to the 'Good Stuff'

"Writer's block is a comforting lie we tell ourselves so we can stop writing and go do other, more pleasurable things. If your fingers still work, you can write. Sit down at the same time every day and start typing. Most of my pages start off with strings of nonsense words or lyrics to pop songs. That's okay. You're just getting the wheels greased, blowing the cobwebs out so the real words can come out.  "What you really want to write about that day probably won't show up until about the fourth or fifth paragraph at the soonest, so   you have to push on through until you get to the good stuff. And there's no skipping ahead. That's not some nonsense rule teachers made up -- it's the physics of writing. It's a law of nature. It's science. You have to write the crappy first few hundred words before the relatively decent, not-too-bad, and hey-this-is-actually-kinda-promising words will feel it is safe to come out. Make them feel safe to come out by pouring out all of those ridiculous little sentences onto the page at your designated time every day. Good words are like children: They love ritual. Give it to them."

Ann Handley , Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, on Anticipating Reader Questions

"A key to good writing is this: It anticipates reader questions. Good writing serves the reader, not the writer. It isn’t indulgent. 'The reader doesn’t turn the page because of a hunger to applaud,' said longtime writing teacher Don Murray. Rather, good writing anticipates what questions readers will have as they read a piece, and (before they ask them) it answers them." 

Hannah Fleishman , Media Relations at HubSpot, on the Importance of Reading to Write Well

"Read, read, and then read some more. You can't become a literary guru, a guest blogger, or even a caption writer if you don't read anything but emails. Weaving words together to create the perfect sounds to make a sentence will be a lot easier after you've seen someone else do it. Check out ' Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times .' It's full of writing quirks and rituals that help great authors get it all down on paper."  

Dan Lyons , Marketing Fellow at HubSpot, on Practicing Writing Like You'd Practice the Piano

"The only way to get better at writing is to write. You should do it every day. It's a lot like learning to play piano or any other instrument. You need to practice -- a lot and consistently. Over time, you'll get better at it." 

Erik Devaney , Content Strategist at HubSpot, on Forgetting About Sounding Pretty at First

"When it comes time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys), don't worry about sounding pretty: Just write! This is something I still struggle with. When I start writing, I always worry that the words aren't flowing as smoothly as they could be or that there's some better word or phrase out there that could more accurately convey what I'm trying to say. As a result, I get slowed down. What I've learned is that when you're writing a first draft, you should focus only on  what  you want to say, then you can go back and improve  how  you're saying it. Put another way: Always make sure you've finished building the house before you start decorating it."

Matthew Bushery , Content Editor at HubSpot, on Embracing Mistakes

"For me, it was simple: I learned mistakes are (a big) part of the game. It's very likely that you won't nail that piece of content you're producing on your first try (or maybe even the second or third) -- but that's okay! Practice truly does make perfect, and if you're willing to accept that you won't write at a Pulitzer-worthy level (at least for now), then you're on your way to becoming a solid writer. Once you've accepted this fact of life, then you can evaluate what writing of yours was good, what wasn't, and improve your work from there." 

Rachel Sprung , Product Marketing Associate at HubSpot, on Writing Often and With Your Audience in Mind

"Practice, practice, practice. The more you write, the more comfortable you will be. I started out writing very short blog posts to get used to writing and explaining concepts. Then, I went on to write more thorough posts after getting some practice. I also always hear  Pamela Vaughan 's voice in the back of my head saying, 'Why should this matter to the reader?' Thinking about that helps me relate the different ideas I'm writing about back to my audience."

Lisa Toner , Inbound Marketing Content Specialist at HubSpot, on Adding Your Own Spin

"When writing for business, don't try to copy what your competitors are doing. That will never be an enjoyable writing experience. You need to write with emotion and in your own voice. Even if the topic you need to write about is 'boring,' find a way to put your own spin on it. This will make you stand out from the others in your industry who are all doing the same thing, as well as build up your personal brand. The result is two-fold: You will start to enjoy writing, and your readers will be able to connect with you and your content on a much deeper level."

Sarah Goliger , Paid Marketing Manager at HubSpot, on Not Over-Preparing

"I find that if I spend too long planning out a blog post or short-form content piece, I get overwhelmed early on in the process. So what works best for me is to give it a little thought initially and then just dive in and start writing. I find that my thoughts tend to flow naturally once I just get started, and I can always go back and revise later, but this way, I've at least gotten past those early stumbling blocks."

Niti Shah , Email Marketing at HubSpot, on Soliciting Help From Good Writers You Know

"In order to get moving on my goal of becoming a better writer, I committed to writing one blog post a week for HubSpot. I worked out a schedule with the blogging team, which meant I was accountable for my work and couldn't just say 'Meh, I'll do it next week.' When I couldn't think about what to write about, needed some guidance in positioning a piece, or just wanted general advice on how to make my writing stronger, I reached out to my wonderfully resourceful, pro-blogger colleagues. It's a learning process, but remember, there are always people to help you improve your writing."

Brittany Leaning , Social Media Manager at HubSpot, on Devising a Blogging Formula

"The hardest part about writing, for me, is coming up with the storyline. That's why I use data. When you run a really great experiment and track all the results, a blog post will pretty much write itself. Try using the scientific method as your outline: Ask a question, come up with a hypothesis, share your process for experimentation, analyze your data, and draw a conclusion. Boom! Instant blog post."

Jay Acunzo , Senior Content Strategist at HubSpot, on Writing Like You Speak

"I stopped 'trying to write well' by some lofty, academic, pseudo-Shakespearean ideal and started to just write thoughts like I'd speak them out loud. Most people don't have problems thinking or speaking their thoughts, so why is it so horrifying to write them down? Stop 'trying' and just do it. The more you do it, the better you'll get. But just freaking do it! There is no magical secret!"

Ginny Soskey , Staff Writer at HubSpot, on Finding Liberation in Breaking Rules

"I took the rules of writing pretty seriously while in school. Once I learned that those rules don't always have to be followed to create engaging content, I started to love it. I could be friendly and informal! I could use curse words to make a point! I could end sentences in prepositions! I could start sentences with conjunctions! Without needing to follow certain rules to get a certain grade, I could spend more time on what I was trying to do all along: communicate something to someone else."

John Bonini , Marketing Director at Impact Branding, on Having a Plan

"The key to mastering anything comes down to preparation and repetition. Start writing. Right now. Do this every day. Great writers aren't great because it's easy -- they're great because they somehow manage to continually and consistently produce great work.  "Lastly, never start a new document without a plan. Having a detailed outline of what you want to say makes the process of articulating it that much easier." 

Libbie Miller , Senior Content Strategist at Sitewire, on Writing Without Expectation

"I think Golden Globe winner Alex Ebert sums it up nicely: 'Even the most deft pen is a clumsy tool, and yet we still try.' Once I got past my own insecurities and stopped trying to achieve first-pass perfection, I was able to let myself off the hook and just create. Just try without expectation and the rest will come."

Ellie Mirman , Inbound Marketing Funnel Manager at HubSpot, on Seizing Those Bursts of Creative Energy

"I never considered myself a 'writer' and I never considered writing one of my strengths, but now I love creating content. The key for me is to take advantage of the moments when I have bursts of creative energy. It's incredibly hard for me to sit down and write on demand. But every once in a while, I'll have a burst of creative energy and want to get some ideas  --   or blog posts  --   down. And no matter how brief that moment, I take advantage of it. At this point, I've probably drafted more blog articles while waiting at the airport than sitting at a desk."

Still not motivated? Grab your own copy of The Marketer's Pocket Guide to Writing Good   or check out all the helpful blogging content that's part of our 30-Day Blog Challenge .

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Writing and Wellness

What to Do When You Hate Your Writing

Do you find that you hate your writing lately?

You look back over those pages full of the words you’ve written and become overwhelmed with the urge to light a huge bonfire.

“Twenty thousand words and a good handful of chapters in,” says author J. M. Frey, “and I hated my novel. I thought it was trite. It was clichéd. It was boring. There was nothing compelling about it and I should just stop and save everyone in the world the pain of having to even know the book ever existed!”

I think most of us have gone through periods when we’ve felt like this. The question is, how do you get past these ugly feelings so you can do what really matters: keep writing?

Two Times When It’s Normal for Writers to Hate Their Own Writing

First things first—if you hate your writing, you’re not alone.

“I’ve met only a few narcissistic writers who never questioned the dazzling brilliance of their work,” says novelist and writing coach Randy Ingermanson. “About half of them were extraordinary geniuses and the other half were irretrievably awful.”

So questioning your own work is normal. But in those moments when you’re worried the writing might be really awful, that probably doesn’t help much.

Still, if you talk to most seasoned writers, they’ll tell you all writers (and artists, for that matter) go through periods where they feel that what they’re producing is crap. There are two times when this type of feeling is likely to come up, and it’s up to you as a writer to determine which time you’re in:

  • You’re a new writer , and you’ve only been at this for a few years. Even if you’ve spent longer than that, perhaps you haven’t had the time to really focus on your craft to the point that you can practice purposefully and improve it.
  • You’re an experienced writer with some success under your belt, but now you’re in the middle of a particular work, and you’re questioning it.

We’ll look at number one first.

New Writers Need to “Fill the Gap”

When you first start out, it’s perfectly normal and even healthy to feel the work is not living up to what you want it to be. Ira Glass, host and producer of This American Life , famously stated:

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.”

In other words, you are enough of a writer already to recognize the flaws in your work, or at least to know there are flaws. You know something’s not right, but your skills or your ability to craft a novel have not yet reached the level of your artistic sensibilities.

How long you spend in this “beginning” period depends on a lot of things, but mainly on how much time you get to devote to your writing, and how much you’re working with an editor or other mentor to get feedback and improve it. Writing, completing each story, and then writing again is the only real way to graduate from novice to pro, and that takes a significant investment of energy and time.

The good news is, as long as you don’t give up, it will eventually work—you will get better.

“We all go through this,” Glass says. “And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.”

That means you have to fall back on your discipline. Have a scheduled writing time each day and stick with it. If it discourages you to read what you wrote the day before, don’t do it. Just start with the next scene and keep going.

It’s incredibly important to finish each project you start, as that’s the only way you’ll improve your skills. If you get to the tough parts and quit and then start over on a new project, you’ll stagnate right where you are. Instead, power through. Find mentors or editors to help. Read books about plotting, setting, and characterization. Immerse yourself into your own writing course as if you were getting a college degree in it.

Realize that most people (minus the exceptional geniuses) require years of concentrated practice to become good writers and storytellers. Give yourself the gift of your patience, accept your own failings, and keep trying. Have faith that you will improve, and one day you’ll look back and find that you have.

Experienced Writers Go Through Periods of Hating Their Work

More experienced writers who have already been through the beginning period, improved their skills, and reached a certain level of success, can still go through times of hating their work.

For some, those times come up during just about every novel. When you reach the dreaded middle, for example, or when you’ve gone through several revisions and still the story isn’t living up to the vision you had for it, you can begin to have fantasies of deleting the files and starting over.

“I put off my fifth revision for months,” said freelance writer Alison Murphy. “Every time I went near my manuscript, I recoiled from it in horror. I couldn’t believe that I had spent so much time producing such boring, unreadable crap.”

Here we’re talking about that gap again—the one that exists between the vision you had for the story and the reality of it staring back at you on the page or the computer screen. The larger that gap is, the more frustrated you’re bound to feel. If you haven’t finished the story yet, those feelings can be even worse.

“It’s a bizarre phenomena the way writers see-saw between a love/hate relationship with their own writing,” says blogger David Stehle. “You’re in the throes of a story or an article. You feel inspired. The creative juices begin to flow. It’s all blooming before you and you’re experiencing that writer’s high….Then the angst sets in. The writing you thought was superb suddenly seems clunky and inadequate. The phrases you particularly liked now seem awkward and ill-formed. The metaphors lack depth and the imagery is weak. The writing is awful…or at least to you it is.”

Feeling like this can mean a number of different things. We’ll review the three most common below.

3 Reasons Writers Hate Their Own Writing

If you’re feeling like you hate your writing right now and you’re an experienced writer, most likely it’s because of one of the three reasons below.

1. The Writer is Tired

Fatigue shows up in funny ways, and hating your work can be one of them. If you’ve been going at it steadily for awhile now, you can find out if this is the cause by simply taking a break. Take a step back from the story. Work on something else for awhile, or take a few days off of writing completely.

Go do something else you enjoy so you can get your mind off the story and how you feel about it. Get involved in some of your other hobbies, or spend some time with your friends and/or family. It could be that when you’ve rested up and refreshed your brain a little, your writing will look much better to you.

2. The Writer Knows Something Isn’t Working

You’ve been working on this piece for awhile, and something just isn’t right. You can feel it. It sits there in the back of your head and keeps banging away on the door. You continue to write, but it’s like you’re trying to squeeze through a space that’s too small for you.

Go back and review what you know about good story structure. Is it clear what the hero wants? Is it clear how the antagonist is standing in his way? Are the stakes high? Does the hero have both internal and external motivation going on? Is the antagonist making things tough enough?

There are a number of books and courses out there that can help you pinpoint what might be going wrong in your story. Don’t be afraid to step back and do some research to see if you can find out.

I’ve used Blueprint Your Bestseller by Stuart Horowitz many times to help myself out of this sort of bind. He has a cool way of guiding you through your manuscript to find its key components, so you can see if they’re measuring up like they need to. His method gives you a way to work with what you have to find out its weak spots, and then you can figure out how to fix them and move forward again.

3. The Writer is Allowing Self-Doubt to Rule

Self-doubt is a constant companion for most writers. It tends to lie dormant for long periods of time, and then out of the blue it can raise its ugly head to cause problems.

What have you been been thinking about lately? If you’re in the dreaded middle of the story and you’re struggling, it’s natural for self-doubt to take advantage of that momentary weakness to wear you down.

It could also be that you’ve fallen into the trap of comparing yourself with other writers. Maybe you heard about another writer’s success or read another writer’s material, and suddenly your work seemed amateurish by comparison.

Or maybe you recently received yet another rejection, or your story didn’t place in that contest you entered. If you can go back in time and trace your thoughts, you may find that somewhere along the line, something entered your mind that started you down the path of doubting yourself.

If this is what’s causing you to look at your own work with a jaded eye, try to remind yourself of your accomplishments so far. Go back and re-read the positive comments and reviews, then return your focus to what you enjoy about writing. Give yourself the time you need to simply create, without fear of judgment.

Allow writing to be the true form of expression it’s meant to be, and your self-doubt will likely recede into the background.

No Matter What, Writers Must Finish

No matter why you may be hating your writing right now, the important thing is to keep working. Don’t let it stop you.

“Keep going,” says writer Jessica Flory. “Finish that novel, no matter what. Even if you never publish it, practicing writing a whole novel is crucial. You need practice blending everything that makes a story into a whole. If you give up in the middle that will never happen. You’ll never get to practice writing an ending, and you’ll never get to see what the complete story would’ve looked like. So finish, no matter what.”

Murphy agrees, stating that when she went through her hating phase, her friend asked her one question that helped her persevere: “Can you hate it and work on it at the same time?” She went on to print the manuscript out and mark it up with a red pen, and then she was able to get back to work fixing all the problems she found.

Finally, realize that emotions come and go. They are passing things. So don’t let them be the last word on this piece you’re creating. Find a way to keep going, and finish the project. That is your job as a writer.

Besides, we all know that there’s a thin line between love and hate, which means you may just be hours away from loving your writing once again.

(For more help finishing your projects, check out our course, “ How to Finish the Creative Projects You Start! “)

What do you do when you hate your writing?

Sources Flory, J. (2013, June 30). What to Do If You Hate Your Novel – A Guest Post – Storyfix.com [Video file]. Retrieved from http://storyfix.com/what-to-do-if-you-hate-your-novel-a-guest-post

Frey, J. M. (2017, May 2). Words for Writers: My Writing Sucks and I Hate Everything Or, Being A Writer While Human. Retrieved from http://jmfrey.net/2014/11/my-writing-sucks-and-i-hate-everything-or-being-a-writer-while-human/

Glass, I. (2016, August 5). The Gap by Ira Glass [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91FQKciKfHI

Ingermanson, R. (2016, January 30). What If You Hate Your Own Writing? | Advanced Fiction Writing. Retrieved from https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2012/11/14/what-if-you-hate-your-own-writing/

Murphy, A. (2015, August 25). The Importance of Hating Your Own Writing [Video file]. Retrieved from http://deaddarlings.com/importance-hating-writing/

Stehle, D. (n.d.). When You Hate Your Own Writing [Video file]. Retrieved from http://diamondkt.blogspot.com/2010/07/when-you-hate-your-own-writing.html

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Excellent advice about finishing a piece. I want to bail on my blog this week, but I won’t. I’ll do the best I can and put it out. I’m tired from surgery recovery, but I still want to write a decent draft of this piece. I’m also at the place where I think everything feels worthless, but my readers disagree. So on I go–finish and post and see what happens next. The piece may be a little dry, but it’s explaining an important idea I’ll use in a workshop in May. I’m trying to articulate a slippery concept. Thanks once again.

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Sounds like you’re understandably fatigued, Elaine, and that affects everything, especially the writing. I’m sure readers will enjoy your blog regardless—that old thing of when we write no matter how we feel, the outcome is usually better than we think. Meanwhile hoping you can get some rest and find a way to play to bring the joy back into your creativity. Good luck!

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Your article arrives at the right time, Colleen, because I’m in the self-editing phase and I just hit a wall. There’s something very wrong in the middle of my draft and it’s so wrong that I’m not even able to go on reading. What do I have in mind in order to fix it? How can I go back to love but also trust my wag of working? I shake things up; I find a way to turn things over and see where that leads me. Somewhere down the path I’ll have to stop.

I can totally relate, Alessandro. I’ve gotten to that stuck place like 4 times in the novel I’m currently working on. Finally broke through when I saw a movie that inspired me to tell it from a totally different angle. It worked. And btw, I had taken a break from the story and was working on another piece of writing when that breakthrough happened. Good luck finding your solution–I’m sure you will!

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For me, it usually happens after I have a contract and have read and reread the manuscript a dozen times during the editing, copy editing, and ARC proofing process. It doesn’t go away until a box of published copies arrive at my house. Then, finally, I can love the story again.

Exactly. Definitely get this one! Somehow holding the physical book in your hands means all is forgiven. :O)

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I need this. I’m close to the end. But, I go from ups and downs. Got to get it finished and you helped.

Yes, keep going Joe! The ups and downs are totally normal. I’m going through that now with my novel, too. Good luck!

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How to Stop Hating What You Write

  • September 4, 2023

Do you hate writing because you think you’re a bad writer? These tips on how to love what you write are inspired by quotes from famous published authors who once hated writing, too.

The first step to stop hating what you write is learning how to love the act of writing itself . If you enjoy the writing process – whether you’re writing for publication or blogging your life history – what you write won’t matter as much as how much you enjoy being a writer.

Me, I don’t hate writing. But I agree with bestselling author Dorothy Parker, who loved finishing a piece of writing. “I hate writing,” she said. “I love having written.” I never used to hate writing but I had a hard time loving what I wrote. My insecurity always get in the way – but I have found that the more I fall in love with the process of writing, the less attached I am to what I wrote. Then it’s no longer a question of “I hate my writing” or “I love what I wrote.” It’s simply about enjoying the writing process.

I like to start every blog post with a resource for writers, so they have somewhere to get more information and inspiration. How to Write It, Third Edition: A Complete Guide to Everything You’ll Ever Write  by Sandra E. Lamb will help you learn how to love writing. The book will lead you through all types of writing. If you really want to love what you write, keep experimenting with different types of writing. This will help you stay fresh and creative.

Here are my ideas to help you stop hating what you write and start loving the writing process. These tips are especially useful for writers who want to make a living as a freelancer or even a published author.

5 Tips for Loving Your Writing

If you believe yourself when you say “I hate writing”, these tips on how to love writing won’t help. But if you’re open to the idea of possibly learning how to maybe someday not-hate or perhaps even like your own writing, then you might find a glimmer of hope in these tips…

1. Know that most writers hate what they wrote

how to love to write

“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth,” said Kurt Vonnegut. He wrote Slaughterhouse-Five and dozens of other novels and short stories. If he felt inept when writing, so should you. Flannery O’Connor said, “Writing [a novel] is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay.” And the great James Joyce said, “Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives.”

2. Connect your writing with your daily life

Earlier today, I retweeted a link to an article on how to write when you have no ideas . The idea is that storytelling is the best way to capture readers’ attention because it activates the brain and helps them remember emotions, themes, characters. Unfortunately, I hate telling stories because it puts me in the spotlight. But, I’m learning how to remember and tell stories. Storytelling doesn’t just bring my writing alive and connect with readers, but to stay on my journey towards emotional health and healing. How does this tip help you love your writing – or at least get your writing done? It’ll allow you to insert yourself in your essay, article, or memo (when appropriate). This will spark your interest, which will in turn make your readers’ ears perk up.

3. Learn why you hate your writing so much

It took me 44 years to realize how unique my perspective and experiences are. I’ve always felt insecure and insignificant because my mom was extremely neglectful (she’s schizophrenic, I spent time in foster homes as a kid) – and that has a HUGE effect on my writing. I’m a good writer, but I’ve never felt that my own experiences were worth writing (home) about. What about you – what is holding you back from learning how to love writing? Maybe it’s a slight learning disability, or fear of rejection, or lack of confidence, or critical teachers, or insecurity like me.

4. Find ways to enjoy the writing process

I’m starting to share more of myself in my writing. When I first started blogging and freelance writing in 2008, I was very much a “tips-based” writer. Now, I’m flirting with the idea of sharing my own experiences, ideas, and opinions. It’s not an easy leap because my writing insecurities go way down deep to my first few months of life. I don’t have a core of confidence, security, or love. How will I learn how to love writing about myself? I connect with God. I feel peaceful, secure, attached, loved, and taken care of when I pray. God is my source of strength, comfort, and freedom to be myself…and the more I connect with Him in spirit and song, the easier it is for me to share myself in my writing.

5. Forgive your bad writing and terrible first drafts

Maybe you’ll always hate what you wrote – but you need to learn how to at least tolerate writing for the moment, to get you through this essay for school or memo for work. You may never learn how to love the writing process, but you can forgive yourself for not writing well. You might also learn ways to increase your writing confidence , which will increase your overall confidence in yourself.

She Blossoms How to Stop Hating What You Write

I don’t love the writing process, but I do enjoy editing my writing. I don’t always love what I wrote, but I rarely hate it. I don’t struggle to write every day, but sometimes I struggle to write without editing as I go. The main thing that helped me grow and succeed as a writer was writing . Writing for my She Blossoms blogs taught me not only how to enjoy the writing process, but how to stop hating every sentence I wrote.

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver .

How will you discipline yourself to write what you want to write? Start by writing for 15 or 30 minutes a day, and accepting yourself as a writer.

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3 thoughts on “How to Stop Hating What You Write”

Before this, I’m always label myself as a bad person in writing. But now I realize that it was a lie that I feed myself.

All thanks to you and this post.

Labeling yourself a “good writer” or a “bad writer” will stop you from writing. And if you stop writing, you’ll never become a better writer — nor will you learn how to love your writing! It’s good to recognize that you were feeding yourself a lie. You may not be the best writer you know and you may not be the worst writer you know…and it doesn’t matter! The fact that you write is the most important thing.

Yesterday a She Blossoms reader asked me, “How can you write so honestly about your past and what you’ve been through? I want to write a book but I don’t know how to write about myself without feeling ashamed.”

The reason I can write about my past is that I don’t care what others think about me. I’m learning how to deeply, joyfully root my identity in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God. I know who I am and nothing else matters….and so my writing doesn’t define me. It’s just part of who I am. That’s the biggest, most important way I learned how to stop hating what I write — and stop fearing what people think of me and my writing!

Before this, I’m always label myself as a bad person in writing. But now I realize that it was a lie that I feed myself. In my 30s, now I want to give myself a chance to walk out of my comfort zone and learn things that I would always tell to myself that I am not capable of. Like what you’ve said, sometimes it is not about the skill itself, but foremost about “ourselves”. In order dealing with myself, I must admit that the problem with “writing” solely not about lacking of critical thinking or how to structure ideas in systematic way. My problem is deeper than that. I am insecure as well and afraid of rejection plus perfectionist. Those things make me feel lack of confidence to write. Tonight I promise to myself to start dealing with that. With my fear, insecurity, and perfectionist. Thank you for opening my eyes. 🙂

Marco Learning

Why Students Hate Writing (and How to Change their Minds!)

In today’s digital world, written communication is more common, more transparent, and more permanent than every before. It’s critical that every student is able to express themselves clearly in writing, yet sadly, many cannot.

This is reflected in the statistics. The National Association of Educational Progress estimates that only 27% of 8th and 12th grade students can write at a proficient level. Among high school students who took the ACT in 2016, roughly 40% could not write at a college level according to the company’s data.

One reason why students struggle with writing is that it can often be challenging to foster a love of writing or deeply engage students in the writing and revision process. Why?

  • Students do not see the point or the relevance of the topic they are writing about.
  • Students feel pressure to write perfectly from the start of their writing process, which slows them down.
  • Feedback is important for student learning , and when students receive bad feedback, slow feedback, or no feedback at all, this is deeply demotivating.

How to Help Students Overcome the Intimidation of Writing

Solving this issue can be challenging. That said, there are several strategies that teachers of all content areas can leverage to reduce a student’s dislike of writing.


It is common for teachers to point out specific concepts or subjects in a given class and state, “This might be on a test someday. Hint, hint!” You’ll see your students’ ears perk up. The same practice could also be used for essays.

For example, let’s say you plan to assign an essay on a book being read in your English class. As your students are working through the novel, you can point out topics and events in the book that could be discussed in a future essay during class readings and discussions.

This can help eliminate student anxiety during the Monday surprise when the essay is assigned, and students can start their essays with a handful of ideas.

why do i hate writing essays


For many students, receiving a writing assignment where they can write about any topic of their choice can be a generally positive experience. Many students view this as an opportunity to write about something in their lives, or the chance to get creative and make up a story.

However, not all students react favorably to choosing their own topic. Some students immediately go into a panic attack of indecision. Others immediately develop writer’s block.

By having a backup plan for those students, teachers can help reduce the anxiety that comes with these types of writing assignments. Some examples of topics that teachers can suggest include:

  • Subjects that have been discussed in class
  • Events that have happened at the school
  • Important news stories, social trends or current events

why do i hate writing essays


No matter what, some students will think of writing the same way they think of root canals. But if teachers can have writing clubs and fun names for daily writing time, and provide more in depth feedback on writing, students will have an easier time replacing dread with acceptance.

Engagement and feedback are how people improve at nearly everything. Students, whether they are first graders or doctoral students, need to be able to understand not only what they did wrong and how to fix it, but what they did right and how to leverage their writing strengths. Outsourcing grading for writing assignments can be highly beneficial in such instances.

Helping Students Accept Writing Assignments

Every teacher can agree that strong writing skills are crucial to a student’s long term success, both academically and professionally. There are several tactics teachers and students can employ to make writing more acceptable and fun.

Get in touch with Marco Learning to discover how we can help enhance your student’s writing skills.

why do i hate writing essays

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why do i hate writing essays

Welcome back! This is part three of a series revealing the truth about writing with mini lessons! In each blog post I provide a mini lesson you can use with your class to discuss topics all students think about but rarely get the chance to talk about in their writing classrooms. Click part one & two below if you missed them…

Part One: Why Your Writing is Not Very Good Awful Part Two:Why Some Writers Are Better Than Others Part Three:Why Some People Hate Writing [This Article]

Here are five ways you can support your writing haters:

I taught the proceeding mini lesson with my students (as I do with all mini lessons I post on my site) and their #1 reason for hating writing was grades! I was not expecting this passionate, resounding reaction from my students about how grades stole the joy out of writing for them. This lesson turned into a whole other conversation about how impacted my students lives are by grades. It was a reality check for me. I realized what we should be writing about…changing the grading system at our school, in our district and who knows maybe the country! This is the perfect opportunity to get my students writing passionately and with purpose. You never know where your students can take a mini lesson….

Say, “How many of you just can’t stand writing, maybe even hate it?” Make a list of reasons students might hate writing together as a class. Write as many reasons as your students can think of on the board.

The Teaching Point

Say, “Here are five reasons I’ve noticed students might not like writing:  1. lack of structure 2. fear of making embarrassing mistakes 3. boredom 4. lack of audience 5. answers are unclear. 6. grades. Today you will learn some ways to overcome these barriers and keep writing.

1. Lack of Structure

Explain to students that all types of writing has a structure. Those who don’t know the structure are most likely going to hate writing because they have nothing to lean on when the writing gets tough and it always does!

Say, “The informational writing structure is usually-step by step or topic and subtopic; narrative writing structure is usually-characters, settings, conflicts and resolution; opinion writing structure usually is- claim, evidence and reasoning. Now that you know these structures you are less likely to hate writing because you can depend on these structures for help when you are stuck.”

2. Fear of Making Embarrassing Mistakes

Explain to students that EVERYONE makes mistakes, sounds dumb and does embarrassing things and let them in on this secret…difficult & embarrassing experiences usually make the best stories! Tell students that in your classroom mistakes and in life in general mistakes should be seen as an opportunity to learn, not something to be embarrassed by.

Explain to students that sometimes in life they are going to be forced to write about a topic they could care less about. Sometimes parents and teachers think it is their job to choose topics for kids to write about. Say, “In these moments…ask the adult if they could possibly let you write about something you LOVE, push the limits of the adult limiting your choice! Remind them that if you don’t care about the topic neither will your reader!”

4. Lack of an Audience

Say, “Today more than ever an audience awaits…kids can create websites, E-books, apps, YouTube channels, clipart and so much more. You are a writer if you are alive. There is an audience at your fingertips if you choose to write. Don’t wait for an adult to give you a boring old assignment, start creating something, start writing and sharing now.”

5. Answers Are Unclear

Say, “Some hate writing because there is not one right answer. There are many ways to go about saying the same thing and that can be overwhelming. It can be downright scary! Writing requires abstract thinking-a level of thinking about things beyond the here and now to thinking about the past, present, future and connections between. Don’t give up on writing yet, let your brain develop, keep pencil to paper, fingertips to keyboard because I promise, if you do, someday soon you will write something to be proud of.”

6. Say, “I’ve heard from you all that one of the main reasons you dislike writing is because of grades. If you feel passionately about this topic what steps could we take today to change this problem?”

Say,  “Students you are writers and can writers write whatever they want! You can write an opinion, a letter persuading someone to change our school grading policy or you could write a poem, a list, a rap, a script for a video or a fairy tale!” Have students discuss with a partner some ideas about what they could write and then where they could find an audience for what they create. Then…send them off to start.

Work Time/Conferencing

Voice Overs Compliment students who write quickly and with passion! Move around the classroom taking note of students who seem to sit for awhile, making little effort to write. These are good candidates for your small group conference.

If the majority of your class is sitting and staring off into space or chatty then more guidelines might be necessary. Review the structure of information writing and then have these students pick topics of interests from there (students who are writing quickly and with passion will not need this conference or extra guideline).

Small Group Work with a group of students who are overwhelmed with the choices and need guidance with picking a topic. Probe students about their interests by asking questions such as, “What do you do at recess? After school? On weekends?”

One-On-One Pull students who still aren’t sure what to write about even after giving extra guidelines to a small group.

These students may be suffering from all or most of the big five reasons students hate writing. Patience is key. Especially remember with these students that their brains are still developing, they may struggle to think abstractly while also not being sure of their interests AND afraid to make mistakes all at once, poor inexperienced writers! Allow these students lots of time to talk about experiences, interests and opinions. You may even consider typing up the discussions. The more you get them talking and realizing their ideas matter (AND THEY DO!) the more willing they will be to write.

Sharing writing and experiences with writing is such a powerful way to build community in your classroom. Let students read and talk about their writing in small groups. Ask students to read parts of their writing out loud to the whole class. Give them an opportunity to talk about what they accomplished in the time they had and discuss struggles they had too!

I hope that I have provided insight and inspiration for your writing class through this post. Don’t forget to share on your social media if you found any of this valuable! Thanks a million times over for visiting and reading!

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why do i hate writing essays


Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, bad college essays: 10 mistakes you must avoid.

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College Essays


Just as there are noteworthy examples of excellent college essays that admissions offices like to publish, so are there cringe-worthy examples of terrible college essays that end up being described by anonymous admissions officers on Reddit discussion boards.

While I won't guarantee that your essay will end up in the first category, I will say that you follow my advice in this article, your essay most assuredly won't end up in the second. How do you avoid writing a bad admissions essay? Read on to find out what makes an essay bad and to learn which college essay topics to avoid. I'll also explain how to recognize bad college essays—and what to do to if you end up creating one by accident.

What Makes Bad College Essays Bad

What exactly happens to turn a college essay terrible? Just as great personal statements combine an unexpected topic with superb execution, flawed personal statements compound problematic subject matter with poor execution.

Problems With the Topic

The primary way to screw up a college essay is to flub what the essay is about or how you've decided to discuss a particular experience. Badly chosen essay content can easily create an essay that is off-putting in one of a number of ways I'll discuss in the next section.

The essay is the place to let the admissions office of your target college get to know your personality, character, and the talents and skills that aren't on your transcript. So if you start with a terrible topic, not only will you end up with a bad essay, but you risk ruining the good impression that the rest of your application makes.

Some bad topics show admissions officers that you don't have a good sense of judgment or maturity , which is a problem since they are building a class of college students who have to be able to handle independent life on campus.

Other bad topics suggest that you are a boring person , or someone who doesn't process your experience in a colorful or lively way, which is a problem since colleges want to create a dynamic and engaged cohort of students.

Still other bad topics indicate that you're unaware of or disconnected from the outside world and focused only on yourself , which is a problem since part of the point of college is to engage with new people and new ideas, and admissions officers are looking for people who can do that.

Problems With the Execution

Sometimes, even if the experiences you discuss could be the foundation of a great personal statement, the way you've structured and put together your essay sends up warning flags. This is because the admissions essay is also a place to show the admissions team the maturity and clarity of your writing style.

One way to get this part wrong is to exhibit very faulty writing mechanics , like unclear syntax or incorrectly used punctuation. This is a problem since college-ready writing is one of the things that's expected from a high school graduate.

Another way to mess this up is to ignore prompt instructions either for creative or careless reasons. This can show admissions officers that you're either someone who simply blows off directions and instructions or someone who can't understand how to follow them . Neither is a good thing, since they are looking for people who are open to receiving new information from professors and not just deciding they know everything already.


College Essay Topics To Avoid

Want to know why you're often advised to write about something mundane and everyday for your college essay? That's because the more out-there your topic, the more likely it is to stumble into one of these trouble categories.

Too Personal

The problem with the overly personal essay topic is that revealing something very private can show that you don't really understand boundaries . And knowing where appropriate boundaries are will be key for living on your own with a bunch of people not related to you.

Unfortunately, stumbling into the TMI zone of essay topics is more common than you think. One quick test for checking your privacy-breaking level: if it's not something you'd tell a friendly stranger sitting next to you on the plane, maybe don't tell it to the admissions office.

  • Describing losing your virginity, or anything about your sex life really. This doesn't mean you can't write about your sexual orientation—just leave out the actual physical act.
  • Writing in too much detail about your illness, disability, any other bodily functions. Detailed meaningful discussion of what this physical condition has meant to you and your life is a great thing to write about. But stay away from body horror and graphic descriptions that are simply there for gratuitous shock value.
  • Waxing poetic about your love for your significant other. Your relationship is adorable to the people currently involved in it, but those who don't know you aren't invested in this aspect of your life.
  • Confessing to odd and unusual desires of the sexual or illegal variety. Your obsession with cultivating cacti is wonderful topic, while your obsession with researching explosives is a terrible one.


Too Revealing of Bad Judgment

Generally speaking, leave past illegal or immoral actions out of your essay . It's simply a bad idea to give admissions officers ammunition to dislike you.

Some exceptions might be if you did something in a very, very different mindset from the one you're in now (in the midst of escaping from danger, under severe coercion, or when you were very young, for example). Or if your essay is about explaining how you've turned over a new leaf and you have the transcript to back you up.

  • Writing about committing crime as something fun or exciting. Unless it's on your permanent record, and you'd like a chance to explain how you've learned your lesson and changed, don't put this in your essay.
  • Describing drug use or the experience of being drunk or high. Even if you're in a state where some recreational drugs are legal, you're a high school student. Your only exposure to mind-altering substances should be caffeine.
  • Making up fictional stories about yourself as though they are true. You're unlikely to be a good enough fantasist to pull this off, and there's no reason to roll the dice on being discovered to be a liar.
  • Detailing your personality flaws. Unless you have a great story of coping with one of these, leave deal-breakers like pathological narcissism out of your personal statement.


Too Overconfident

While it's great to have faith in your abilities, no one likes a relentless show-off. No matter how magnificent your accomplishments, if you decide to focus your essay on them, it's better to describe a setback or a moment of doubt rather that simply praising yourself to the skies.

  • Bragging and making yourself the flawless hero of your essay. This goes double if you're writing about not particularly exciting achievements like scoring the winning goal or getting the lead in the play.
  • Having no awareness of the actual scope of your accomplishments. It's lovely that you take time to help others, but volunteer-tutoring a couple of hours a week doesn't make you a saintly figure.


Too Clichéd or Boring

Remember your reader. In this case, you're trying to make yourself memorable to an admissions officer who has been reading thousands of other essays . If your essay makes the mistake of being boring or trite, it just won't register in that person's mind as anything worth paying attention to.

  • Transcribing your resume into sentence form or writing about the main activity on your transcript. The application already includes your resume, or a detailed list of your various activities. Unless the prompt specifically asks you to write about your main activity, the essay needs to be about a facet of your interests and personality that doesn't come through the other parts of the application.
  • Writing about sports. Every athlete tries to write this essay. Unless you have a completely off-the-wall story or unusual achievement, leave this overdone topic be.
  • Being moved by your community service trip to a third-world country. Were you were impressed at how happy the people seemed despite being poor? Did you learn a valuable lesson about how privileged you are? Unfortunately, so has every other teenager who traveled on one of these trips. Writing about this tends to simultaneously make you sound unempathetic, clueless about the world, way over-privileged, and condescending. Unless you have a highly specific, totally unusual story to tell, don't do it.
  • Reacting with sadness to a sad, but very common experience. Unfortunately, many of the hard, formative events in your life are fairly universal. So, if you're going to write about death or divorce, make sure to focus on how you dealt with this event, so the essay is something only you could possibly have written. Only detailed, idiosyncratic description can save this topic.
  • Going meta. Don't write about the fact that you're writing the essay as we speak, and now the reader is reading it, and look, the essay is right here in the reader's hand. It's a technique that seems clever, but has already been done many times in many different ways.
  • Offering your ideas on how to fix the world. This is especially true if your solution is an easy fix, if only everyone would just listen to you. Trust me, there's just no way you are being realistically appreciative of the level of complexity inherent in the problem you're describing.
  • Starting with a famous quotation. There usually is no need to shore up your own words by bringing in someone else's. Of course, if you are writing about a particular phrase that you've adopted as a life motto, feel free to include it. But even then, having it be the first line in your essay feels like you're handing the keys over to that author and asking them to drive.
  • Using an everyday object as a metaphor for your life/personality. "Shoes. They are like this, and like that, and people love them for all of these reasons. And guess what? They are just like me."


Too Off-Topic

Unlike the essays you've been writing in school where the idea is to analyze something outside of yourself, the main subject of your college essay should be you, your background, your makeup, and your future . Writing about someone or something else might well make a great essay, but not for this context.

  • Paying tribute to someone very important to you. Everyone would love to meet your grandma, but this isn't the time to focus on her amazing coming of age story. If you do want to talk about a person who is important to your life, dwell on the ways you've been impacted by them, and how you will incorporate this impact into your future.
  • Documenting how well other people do things, say things, are active, while you remain passive and inactive in the essay. Being in the orbit of someone else's important lab work, or complex stage production, or meaningful political activism is a fantastic learning moment. But if you decide to write about, your essay should be about your learning and how you've been influenced, not about the other person's achievements.
  • Concentrating on a work of art that deeply moved you. Watch out for the pitfall of writing an analytical essay about that work, and not at all about your reaction to it or how you've been affected since. Check out our explanation of how to answer Topic D of the ApplyTexas application to get some advice on writing about someone else's work while making sure your essay still points back at you.


(Image: Pieter Christoffel Wonder [Public domain] , via Wikimedia Commons)

why do i hate writing essays

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Too Offensive

With this potential mistake, you run the risk of showing a lack of self-awareness or the ability to be open to new ideas . Remember, no reader wants to be lectured at. If that's what your essay does, you are demonstrating an inability to communicate successfully with others.

Also, remember that no college is eager to admit someone who is too close-minded to benefit from being taught by others. A long, one-sided essay about a hot-button issue will suggest that you are exactly that.

  • Ranting at length about political, religious, or other contentious topics. You simply don't know where the admissions officer who reads your essay stands on any of these issues. It's better to avoid upsetting or angering that person.
  • Writing a one-sided diatribe about guns, abortion, the death penalty, immigration, or anything else in the news. Even if you can marshal facts in your argument, this essay is simply the wrong place to take a narrow, unempathetic side in an ongoing debate.
  • Mentioning anything negative about the school you're applying to. Again, your reader is someone who works there and presumably is proud of the place. This is not the time to question the admissions officer's opinions or life choices.


College Essay Execution Problems To Avoid

Bad college essays aren't only caused by bad topics. Sometimes, even if you're writing about an interesting, relevant topic, you can still seem immature or unready for college life because of the way you present that topic—the way you actually write your personal statement. Check to make sure you haven't made any of the common mistakes on this list.


Admissions officers are looking for resourcefulness, the ability to be resilient, and an active and optimistic approach to life —these are all qualities that create a thriving college student. Essays that don't show these qualities are usually suffering from tone-deafness.

  • Being whiny or complaining about problems in your life. Is the essay about everyone doing things to/against you? About things happening to you, rather than you doing anything about them? That perspective is a definite turn-off.
  • Trying and failing to use humor. You may be very funny in real life, but it's hard to be successfully funny in this context, especially when writing for a reader who doesn't know you. If you do want to use humor, I'd recommend the simplest and most straightforward version: being self-deprecating and low-key.
  • Talking down to the reader, or alternately being self-aggrandizing. No one enjoys being condescended to. In this case, much of the function of your essay is to charm and make yourself likable, which is unlikely to happen if you adopt this tone.
  • Being pessimistic, cynical, and generally depressive. You are applying to college because you are looking forward to a future of learning, achievement, and self-actualization. This is not the time to bust out your existential ennui and your jaded, been-there-done-that attitude toward life.


(Image: Eduard Munch [Public Domain] , via Wikimedia Commons)

Lack of Personality

One good question to ask yourself is: could anyone else have written this essay ? If the answer is yes, then you aren't doing a good job of representing your unique perspective on the world. It's very important to demonstrate your ability to be a detailed observer of the world, since that will be one of your main jobs as a college student.

  • Avoiding any emotions, and appearing robot-like and cold in the essay. Unlike essays that you've been writing for class, this essay is meant to be a showcase of your authorial voice and personality. It may seem strange to shift gears after learning how to take yourself out of your writing, but this is the place where you have to put as much as yourself in as possible.
  • Skipping over description and specific details in favor of writing only in vague generalities. Does your narrative feel like a newspaper horoscope, which could apply to every other person who was there that day? Then you're doing it wrong and need to refocus on your reaction, feelings, understanding, and transformation.


Off-Kilter Style

There's some room for creativity here, yes, but a college essay isn't a free-for-all postmodern art class . True, there are prompts that specifically call for your most out-of-left-field submission, or allow you to submit a portfolio or some other work sample instead of a traditional essay. But on a standard application, it's better to stick to traditional prose, split into paragraphs, further split into sentences.

  • Submitting anything other than just the materials asked for on your application. Don't send food to the admissions office, don't write your essay on clothing or shoes, don't create a YouTube channel about your undying commitment to the school. I know there are a lot of urban legends about "that one time this crazy thing worked," but they are either not true or about something that will not work a second time.
  • Writing your essay in verse, in the form of a play, in bullet points, as an acrostic, or any other non-prose form. Unless you really have a way with poetry or playwriting, and you are very confident that you can meet the demands of the prompt and explain yourself well in this form, don't discard prose simply for the sake of being different.
  • Using as many "fancy" words as possible and getting very far away from sounding like yourself. Admissions officers are unanimous in wanting to hear your not fully formed teenage voice in your essay. This means that you should write at the top of your vocabulary range and syntax complexity, but don't trade every word up for a thesaurus synonym. Your essay will suffer for it.


Failure to Proofread

Most people have a hard time checking over their own work. This is why you have to make sure that someone else proofreads your writing . This is the one place where you can, should—and really must—get someone who knows all about grammar, punctuation and has a good eye for detail to take a red pencil to your final draft.

Otherwise, you look like you either don't know the basic rules or writing (in which case, are you really ready for college work?) or don't care enough to present yourself well (in which case, why would the admissions people care about admitting you?).

  • Typos, grammatical mistakes, punctuation flubs, weird font/paragraph spacing issues. It's true that these are often unintentional mistakes. But caring about getting it right is a way to demonstrate your work ethic and dedication to the task at hand.
  • Going over the word limit. Part of showing your brilliance is being able to work within arbitrary rules and limitations. Going over the word count points to a lack of self-control, which is not a very attractive feature in a college applicant.
  • Repeating the same word(s) or sentence structure over and over again. This makes your prose monotonous and hard to read.


Bad College Essay Examples—And How to Fix Them

The beauty of writing is that you get to rewrite. So if you think of your essay as a draft waiting to be revised into a better version rather than as a precious jewel that can't bear being touched, you'll be in far better shape to correct the issues that always crop up!

Now let's take a look at some actual college essay drafts to see where the writer is going wrong and how the issue could be fixed.

Essay #1: The "I Am Writing This Essay as We Speak" Meta-Narrative

Was your childhood home destroyed by a landspout tornado? Yeah, neither was mine. I know that intro might have given the impression that this college essay will be about withstanding disasters, but the truth is that it isn't about that at all.

In my junior year, I always had in mind an image of myself finishing the college essay months before the deadline. But as the weeks dragged on and the deadline drew near, it soon became clear that at the rate things are going I would probably have to make new plans for my October, November and December.

Falling into my personal wormhole, I sat down with my mom to talk about colleges. "Maybe you should write about Star Trek ," she suggested, "you know how you've always been obsessed with Captain Picard, calling him your dream mentor. Unique hobbies make good topics, right? You'll sound creative!" I played with the thought in my mind, tapping my imaginary communicator pin and whispering "Computer. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. And then an Essay." Nothing happened. Instead, I sat quietly in my room wrote the old-fashioned way. Days later I emerged from my room disheveled, but to my dismay, this college essay made me sound like just a guy who can't get over the fact that he'll never take the Starfleet Academy entrance exam. So, I tossed my essay away without even getting to disintegrate it with a phaser set on stun.

I fell into a state of panic. My college essay. My image of myself in senior year. Almost out of nowhere, Robert Jameson Smith offered his words of advice. Perfect! He suggested students begin their college essay by listing their achievements and letting their essay materialize from there. My heart lifted, I took his advice and listed three of my greatest achievements - mastering my backgammon strategy, being a part of TREE in my sophomore year, and performing "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" from The Pirates of Penzance in public. And sure enough, I felt inspiration hit me and began to type away furiously into the keyboard about my experience in TREE, or Trees Require Engaged Environmentalists. I reflected on the current state of deforestation, and described the dichotomy of it being both understandable why farmers cut down forests for farmland, and how dangerous this is to our planet. Finally, I added my personal epiphany to the end of my college essay as the cherry on the vanilla sundae, as the overused saying goes.

After 3 weeks of figuring myself out, I have converted myself into a piece of writing. As far as achievements go, this was definitely an amazing one. The ability to transform a human being into 603 words surely deserves a gold medal. Yet in this essay, I was still being nagged by a voice that couldn't be ignored. Eventually, I submitted to that yelling inner voice and decided that this was not the right essay either.

In the middle of a hike through Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, I realized that the college essay was nothing more than an embodiment of my character. The two essays I have written were not right because they have failed to become more than just words on recycled paper. The subject failed to come alive. Certainly my keen interest in Star Trek and my enthusiasm for TREE are a great part of who I am, but there were other qualities essential in my character that did not come across in the essays.

With this realization, I turned around as quickly as I could without crashing into a tree.

What Essay #1 Does Well

Here are all things that are working on all cylinders for this personal statement as is.

Killer First Sentence

Was your childhood home destroyed by a landspout tornado? Yeah, neither was mine.

  • A strange fact. There are different kinds of tornadoes? What is a "landspout tornado" anyway?
  • A late-night-deep-thoughts hypothetical. What would it be like to be a kid whose house was destroyed in this unusual way?
  • Direct engagement with the reader. Instead of asking "what would it be like to have a tornado destroy a house" it asks "was your house ever destroyed."


Gentle, Self-Deprecating Humor That Lands Well

I played with the thought in my mind, tapping my imaginary communicator pin and whispering "Computer. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. And then an Essay." Nothing happened. Instead, I sat quietly in my room wrote the old-fashioned way. Days later I emerged from my room disheveled, but to my dismay, this college essay made me sound like just a guy who can't get over the fact that he'll never take the Starfleet Academy entrance exam. So, I tossed my essay away without even getting to disintegrate it with a phaser set on stun.

The author has his cake and eats it too here: both making fun of himself for being super into the Star Trek mythos, but also showing himself being committed enough to try whispering a command to the Enterprise computer alone in his room. You know, just in case.

A Solid Point That Is Made Paragraph by Paragraph

The meat of the essay is that the two versions of himself that the author thought about portraying each fails in some way to describe the real him. Neither an essay focusing on his off-beat interests, nor an essay devoted to his serious activism could capture everything about a well-rounded person in 600 words.


(Image: fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons .)

Where Essay #1 Needs Revision

Rewriting these flawed parts will make the essay shine.

Spending Way Too Long on the Metanarrative

I know that intro might have given the impression that this college essay will be about withstanding disasters, but the truth is that it isn't about that at all.

After 3 weeks of figuring myself out, I have converted myself into a piece of writing. As far as achievements go, this was definitely an amazing one. The ability to transform a human being into 603 words surely deserves a gold medal.

Look at how long and draggy these paragraphs are, especially after that zippy opening. Is it at all interesting to read about how someone else found the process of writing hard? Not really, because this is a very common experience.

In the rewrite, I'd advise condensing all of this to maybe a sentence to get to the meat of the actual essay .

Letting Other People Do All the Doing

I sat down with my mom to talk about colleges. "Maybe you should write about Star Trek ," she suggested, "you know how you've always been obsessed with Captain Picard, calling him your dream mentor. Unique hobbies make good topics, right? You'll sound creative!"

Almost out of nowhere, Robert Jameson Smith offered his words of advice. Perfect! He suggested students begin their college essay by listing their achievements and letting their essay materialize from there.

Twice in the essay, the author lets someone else tell him what to do. Not only that, but it sounds like both of the "incomplete" essays were dictated by the thoughts of other people and had little to do with his own ideas, experiences, or initiative.

In the rewrite, it would be better to recast both the Star Trek and the TREE versions of the essay as the author's own thoughts rather than someone else's suggestions . This way, the point of the essay—taking apart the idea that a college essay could summarize life experience—is earned by the author's two failed attempts to write that other kind of essay.


Leaving the Insight and Meaning Out of His Experiences

Both the Star Trek fandom and the TREE activism were obviously important life experiences for this author—important enough to be potential college essay topic candidates. But there is no description of what the author did with either one, nor any explanation of why these were so meaningful to his life.

It's fine to say that none of your achievements individually define you, but in order for that to work, you have to really sell the achievements themselves.

In the rewrite, it would be good to explore what he learned about himself and the world by pursuing these interests . How did they change him or seen him into the person he is today?

Not Adding New Shades and Facets of Himself Into the Mix

So, I tossed my essay away without even getting to disintegrate it with a phaser set on stun.

Yet in this essay, I was still being nagged by a voice that couldn't be ignored. Eventually, I submitted to that yelling inner voice and decided that this was not the right essay either.

In both of these passages, there is the perfect opportunity to point out what exactly these failed versions of the essay didn't capture about the author . In the next essay draft, I would suggest subtly making a point about his other qualities.

For example, after the Star Trek paragraph, he could talk about other culture he likes to consume, especially if he can discuss art forms he is interested in that would not be expected from someone who loves Star Trek .

Or, after the TREE paragraph, the author could explain why this second essay was no better at capturing him than the first. What was missing? Why is the self in the essay shouting—is it because this version paints him as an overly aggressive activist?


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Essay #2: The "I Once Saw Poor People" Service Trip Essay

Unlike other teenagers, I'm not concerned about money, or partying, or what others think of me. Unlike other eighteen year-olds, I think about my future, and haven't become totally materialistic and acquisitive. My whole outlook on life changed after I realized that my life was just being handed to me on a silver spoon, and yet there were those in the world who didn't have enough food to eat or place to live. I realized that the one thing that this world needed more than anything was compassion; compassion for those less fortunate than us.

During the summer of 2006, I went on a community service trip to rural Peru to help build an elementary school for kids there. I expected harsh conditions, but what I encountered was far worse. It was one thing to watch commercials asking for donations to help the unfortunate people in less developed countries, yet it was a whole different story to actually live it. Even after all this time, I can still hear babies crying from hunger; I can still see the filthy rags that they wore; I can still smell the stench of misery and hopelessness. But my most vivid memory was the moment I first got to the farming town. The conditions of it hit me by surprise; it looked much worse in real life than compared to the what our group leader had told us. Poverty to me and everyone else I knew was a foreign concept that people hear about on the news or see in documentaries. But this abject poverty was their life, their reality. And for the brief ten days I was there, it would be mine too. As all of this realization came at once, I felt overwhelmed by the weight of what was to come. Would I be able to live in the same conditions as these people? Would I catch a disease that no longer existed in the first world, or maybe die from drinking contaminated water? As these questions rolled around my already dazed mind, I heard a soft voice asking me in Spanish, "Are you okay? Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?" I looked down to see a small boy, around nine years of age, who looked starved, and cold, wearing tattered clothing, comforting me. These people who have so little were able to forget their own needs, and put those much more fortunate ahead of themselves. It was at that moment that I saw how selfish I had been. How many people suffered like this in the world, while I went about life concerned about nothing at all?

Thinking back on the trip, maybe I made a difference, maybe not. But I gained something much more important. I gained the desire to make the world a better place for others. It was in a small, poverty-stricken village in Peru that I finally realized that there was more to life than just being alive.

What Essay #2 Does Well

Let's first point out what this draft has going for it.

Clear Chronology

This is an essay that tries to explain a shift in perspective. There are different ways to structure this overarching idea, but a chronological approach that starts with an earlier opinion, describes a mind changing event, and ends with the transformed point of view is an easy and clear way to lay this potentially complex subject out.


(Image: User:Lite via Wikimedia Commons)

Where Essay #2 Needs Revision

Now let's see what needs to be changed in order for this essay to pass muster.

Condescending, Obnoxious Tone

Unlike other teenagers, I'm not concerned about money, or partying, or what others think of me. Unlike other eighteen year-olds, I think about my future, and haven't become totally materialistic and acquisitive.

This is a very broad generalization, which doesn't tend to be the best way to formulate an argument—or to start an essay. It just makes this author sound dismissive of a huge swath of the population.

In the rewrite, this author would be way better off just concentrate on what she want to say about herself, not pass judgment on "other teenagers," most of whom she doesn't know and will never meet.

I realized that the one thing that this world needed more than anything was compassion; compassion for those less fortunate than us.

Coming from someone who hasn't earned her place in the world through anything but the luck of being born, the word "compassion" sounds really condescending. Calling others "less fortunate" when you're a senior in high school has a dehumanizing quality to it.

These people who have so little were able to forget their own needs, and put those much more fortunate in front of themselves.

Again, this comes across as very patronizing. Not only that, but to this little boy the author was clearly not looking all that "fortunate"—instead, she looked pathetic enough to need comforting.

In the next draft, a better hook could be making the essay about the many different kinds of shifting perspectives the author encountered on that trip . A more meaningful essay would compare and contrast the points of view of the TV commercials, to what the group leader said, to the author's own expectations, and finally to this child's point of view.


Vague, Unobservant Description

During the summer of 2006, I went on a community service trip to rural Peru to help build an elementary school for kids there. I expected harsh conditions, but what I encountered was far worse. It was one thing to watch commercials asking for donations to help the unfortunate people in less developed countries, yet it was a whole different story to actually live it. Even after all this time, I can still hear babies crying from hunger; I can still see the filthy rags that they wore; I can still smell the stench of misery and hopelessness.

Phrases like "cries of the small children from not having enough to eat" and "dirt stained rags" seem like descriptions, but they're really closer to incurious and completely hackneyed generalizations. Why were the kids were crying? How many kids? All the kids? One specific really loud kid?

The same goes for "filthy rags," which is both an incredibly insensitive way to talk about the clothing of these villagers, and again shows a total lack of interest in their life. Why were their clothes dirty? Were they workers or farmers so their clothes showing marks of labor? Did they have Sunday clothes? Traditional clothes they would put on for special occasions? Did they make their own clothes? That would be a good reason to keep wearing clothing even if it had "stains" on it.

The rewrite should either make this section more specific and less reliant on cliches, or should discard it altogether .

The conditions of it hit me by surprise; it looked much worse in real life than compared to the what our group leader had told us. Poverty to me and everyone else I knew was a foreign concept that people hear about on the news or see in documentaries. But this abject poverty was their life, their reality.

If this is the "most vivid memory," then I would expect to read all the details that have been seared into the author's brain. What did their leader tell them? What was different in real life? What was the light like? What did the houses/roads/grass/fields/trees/animals/cars look like? What time of day was it? Did they get there by bus, train, or plane? Was there an airport/train station/bus terminal? A city center? Shops? A marketplace?

There are any number of details to include here when doing another drafting pass.


Lack of Insight or Maturity

But this abject poverty was their life, their reality. And for the brief ten days I was there, it would be mine too. As all of this realization came at once, I felt overwhelmed by the weight of what was to come. Would I be able to live in the same conditions as these people? Would I catch a disease that no longer existed in the first world, or maybe die from drinking contaminated water?

Without a framing device explaining that this initial panic was an overreaction, this section just makes the author sound whiny, entitled, melodramatic, and immature . After all, this isn't a a solo wilderness trek—the author is there with a paid guided program. Just how much mortality is typically associated with these very standard college-application-boosting service trips?

In a rewrite, I would suggest including more perspective on the author's outsized and overprivileged response here. This would fit well with a new focus on the different points of view on this village the author encountered.

Unearned, Clichéd "Deep Thoughts"

But I gained something much more important. I gained the desire to make the world a better place for others. It was in a small, poverty-stricken village in Peru that I finally realized that there was more to life than just being alive.

Is it really believable that this is what the author learned? There is maybe some evidence to suggest that the author was shaken somewhat out of a comfortable, materialistic existence. But what does "there is more to life than just being alive" even really mean? This conclusion is rather vague, and seems mostly a non sequitur.

In a rewrite, the essay should be completely reoriented to discuss how differently others see us than we see ourselves, pivoting on the experience of being pitied by someone who you thought was pitiable. Then, the new version can end by on a note of being better able to understand different points of view and other people's perspectives .


The Bottom Line

  • Bad college essays have problems either with their topics or their execution.
  • The essay is how admissions officers learn about your personality, point of view, and maturity level, so getting the topic right is a key factor in letting them see you as an aware, self-directed, open-minded applicant who is going to thrive in an environment of independence.
  • The essay is also how admissions officers learn that you are writing at a ready-for-college level, so screwing up the execution shows that you either don't know how to write, or don't care enough to do it well.
  • The main ways college essay topics go wrong is bad taste, bad judgment, and lack of self-awareness.
  • The main ways college essays fail in their execution have to do with ignoring format, syntax, and genre expectations.

What's Next?

Want to read some excellent college essays now that you've seen some examples of flawed one? Take a look through our roundup of college essay examples published by colleges and then get help with brainstorming your perfect college essay topic .

Need some guidance on other parts of the application process? Check out our detailed, step-by-step guide to college applications for advice.

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Anna scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, and went on to major in English at Princeton and to get her doctorate in English Literature at Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

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Why Students Hate Writing (From Someone Who Teaches It)

Why Students Hate Writing (From Someone Who Teaches It)

Originally published in TEACH Magazine July/August 2019 Issue

By Josh Schultheis

I love literature. That’s why I became a high school English teacher.

Recently, my sister asked me to help edit an essay as part of her medical school application. My sister, just as a brief disclaimer, is a borderline genius. Perfect GPA. Multiple college scholarships. Her task was to explain why she wanted to become a doctor. It couldn’t have been any simpler. I did my part as the English teacher: corrected grammar, fixed passive voice issues, made things sound pretty, and all other typical “make this good” writing help. What confused me however, was that this portion of the application stressed her the most. “I suck at writing. I hate it,” she lamented. I was utterly stunned.

She literally was writing about wanting to become a doctor—her life goal since we were in diapers. How could she hate this? I have come to realize this: it’s not the topic (that my sister could talk about for days) she hated; she, like so many other young people, had been conditioned to hate writing because of the way it was taught.

Every year, almost every student says, “I suck at writing. I hate it.” I hear this phrase far more than “Hello,” “Thank you,” or even “Can I use the restroom?” (Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.)

Students clearly hate writing. This is not an innate human feature. The general hatred of writing is bred into the way students are taught to write throughout their lives. Writing, at its core, is possibly one of the most open-ended avenues in human existence, but it’s taken and subjugated into categories just like math. It’s also graded as such. Teachers assign categorical points from some of the most painstakingly structured rubrics to some of the most subjective topics. It is totally counterintuitive and not fair to the student. I know because I have had to do it myself all too often.

Here’s an all-too-real hypothetical example.

In the rubric, there is a category called “introduction” worth 10 pts, including a bullet point saying something like, “Strong hook that connects smoothly with thesis.” Here is some feedback that is eerily similar to what I have written hundreds of times: “Well, Jace, how you connected the hook to your thesis is pretty weak, so I’m going to have to take off a few points in that category.”

What does “weak” mean? It’s arbitrary. It’s subjective. Another teacher could think something completely different. That is what makes writing beautiful, but now Jace feels his story about turtles in Syria is “bad.” He’s 15! Of course his writing is going to improve the more he works at it, but because he has been told precisely how much his writing is worth from the age of six, Jace hates writing.

Naturally, Jace isn’t going to like being told his writing wasn’t “good” (look at the score), so now he hates it. He shuts down so he doesn’t have to face the feelings that go along with being told that “your ideas are stupid.” That hurts. For anyone. To be told that an original idea you had isn’t very good is emotionally and psychologically worse than getting a random math problem wrong on a test. It makes no sense, so why do it?

“Jace,” of course, is not a real student, but he epitomizes the state of the vast majority of young people in the modern education system. So, what exactly needs to change, and how? Rethinking the rigid grading system is a good start. I’m not saying we should do away with grades, but restructure what is evaluated and how it’s done. It’s really hard to have an exact method and calculated procedure because that is not what literature and writing is, at least not at the secondary level.

Think about the best teachers you had. They were different, and if you think that’s easy, it’s not. A great English teacher needs to be involved, devoted, intensely creative, and a genuinely self-motivated person, because that is what is required by the nature of literature and writing. They should be someone who doesn’t need to fear an impending standardized test to be motivated to do their job because they understand that it is impossible to definitively test.

To understand human nature and communication is confusing no matter your age. Young people need someone at the helm who is exceptionally creative; someone to encourage them to write and flesh out new features of themselves and others; and to consider new thoughts and ideas. That person needs to see most human problems have a lot of answers that can make sense. And that person needs to expose their students to the nature of thought in real ways with which a young mind can connect.

I’ve come to realize this is what it takes to teach students to love writing (at least love it more than they do currently). Not rigid rubrics, and not vague feedback. It’s very hard, but also very rewarding.

Josh Schultheis has a BA from Indiana University. He has been teaching English and writing at Brownsburg High School in Indiana for the past six years.

What to do if you hate writing essays

Publication Date: 21 February 2022

If you fear writing essays, you should know that you are not alone. It is quite normal for students to be afraid of writing college essays, as this is the most overwhelming and time-consuming academic exercise. Some students manage to overcome this fear alone and eventually grow into capable and respectful writers, though the path to this success is not an easy one.

I have been one of those students, who feared and hated writing college essays. Nevertheless, here I am now an accomplished writer at the College Task Force, making a good living by writing college papers on demand. Below, I will share with you the most effective techniques, which helped me to overcome the fear of writing and get significantly better at writing essays.

Why students hate essays

Of course, it is always an option to hire a professional writer to take care of your college writing assignment. But before doing so, ask yourself, “Why do I hate writing essays?” Self-analysis is a powerful and effective instrument, which shows that with a little time and effort investment, you can learn to write good papers yourself. Here is how: 

1. Be Natural 

The main challenge most students face when writing academic papers is the challenge of language style. Usually, academic writing is much more formal than casual writing, while in social media and private correspondence students get used to writing informally. 

One simple technique is to be natural in essay writing at first. When you just learn to write academic papers, try to be brief and simple, use your usual language style. Later, you can always edit your draft and make it more formal. 

2. Use Pencil or Pen 

Some people get used to handwriting with pen or pencil; they draw outlines and pictures of their future texts. I was used to writing with a simple pen and paper, thus learning to write college essays was much easier for me using these conventional tools. Always keep a pencil and paper close to you when you start typing an essay text, this might contribute to an easier start of your paper.

3. Set an Interim Deadline

Official deadlines are scary for many people. To avoid procrastination, try setting your “private” deadline, which typically would be a bit shorter than the official one. I used to set my “private” deadlines one or two days before the formal academic deadlines. Usually, it helped me to break my work into parts and to have a clean version of my text prior to the official deadline. 

4. Plan Your Workload

Planning is perhaps the single most important technique in my writing arsenal. I learned to plan my writing early on in my career, and this helped me tremendously in becoming a professional writer. You can split your essay task into logical parts: introduction, main body, conclusion, and aim to finish those according to your schedule. Then, you can also plan to have the first draft, second draft, and a final version. There are so many planning approaches out there, and you should definitely try some.   

5. Avoid Distracting Factors

We write best when nothing is disturbing us. However, in modern life, there are so many distracting factors around us that writing can be really difficult. Avoid things like social media, computer games, radios, YouTube videos, noisy environments, etc. 

6. Start With the Easiest Part

Finally, some students hate writing because they don’t know how to begin. Ask yourself: Why do I hate writing essays? Could it be because initiating writing takes a lot of time and you end up lacking minutes and motivation? My advice would be to begin writing with whatever idea you have in mind. Start in the middle – the main body, by explaining your thesis statement and key arguments. Later, you can add an introduction and conclusion.

Common Reasons Why Students Hate Writing Essays

Students are afraid of writing academic essays not because of some superficial personality traits or physiological issues, but rather because of very concrete and objective reasons. Below, I give an overview of some of the most frequent reasons why students may hate writing essays.  

Leave Your Comfort Zone

Writing academic texts forces many to leave their comfort zones. In the age of online marketing, sales, education when everything happens fast and communication is usually brief and informal, academic writing appears like something from another world. It is formal and requires extensive research and reading prior to actual writing.

Are you ready to leave your comfort zone and learn how to write good academic texts? It is a solitary exercise, which requires silence and isolation from your friends, computer games, social media, etc. 

Struggle to Find a Good Topic 

Some say that to start writing equals half of the overall success (or work done). However, topic selection always comes first. Many find this stage very difficult; they spend hours and sometimes days searching for a good topic and end up wasting their time. 

The biggest mistake students make is selecting the wrong topic and lacking motivation and fats to compose a good essay. Often, they brainstorm topic ideas with their peers and friends, which doesn’t always lead to a good topic, unfortunately. 

Lack Motivation

Many students don’t see the purpose of writing essays. They fail to spot a clear connection between writing skills and career opportunities, success in one’s professional aspirations. 

At the same time, for some writing may be a useless exercise, indeed. After all, not everyone is going to work with communication, journalism, or business correspondence. There are a lot of technical professions, math, statistics, science, which don’t require solid writing skills. 

How to Get Better At Writing College Essays

Since writing essays is a mandatory academic exercise and hardly anyone can avoid it when in college, it is worth learning how one can get significantly better at writing essays and other college papers.

Here are a few pro-tips, often heard from professional writers, which will help you improve your writing skills:

  • Read a lot. Before anyone can become a good writer, they must learn how to write from others. Reading top writers’ articles, essays, blog posts and other pieces of creative writing will inevitably add up to your writing capabilities. 
  • Find your writing style. It is true that all people are different: some are more talented in narrative writing, others are better at analytical and research kinds of writing. Discovering your strong sides and building on those early on will greatly help you grow as a writer.
  • Find motivation. Ask yourself: “Why do I hate writing essays?” In over 90% of cases, students lack the motivation to create a good text. Know what inspires you, and try to pick up topics and research questions that are both challenging and interesting.
  • Approach writing incrementally. In most instances, nobody is forcing you to start and finish writing in one approach. In fact, most people will benefit from writing texts piece by piece, part by part, such as writing an introduction and taking a small break to contemplate the main body.
  • Reward yourself. Don’t be shy to reward your writing efforts and achievements. This could be a simple break doing something pleasant, such as watching a movie. Or playing a computer game, eating a cake, buying something online, etc.    

The Bottom Line

Essays and other academic papers are classic attributes of college studies. Nobody can escape writing those. While most students hate writing and try to avoid this activity at all costs, there are also those who learn to overcome their fears and get notably better at writing.

The key techniques in becoming a better writer are not as hard as many believe. In fact, there are several very easy and effective ways how everyone can get better at writing college papers.

I have shared my personal experience in this article and spiced it up with a few practical tips from other professional writers. I am sure that with a bit of practice and dedication, anyone can master these simple techniques and tips and eventually become an accomplished writer.      

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Reasons Why You Are So Slow At Writing Essays

  • Post author By Ahmed Mohamed
  • Post date February 23, 2024

why do i hate writing essays

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom

Essay writing is an integral component of academic life, yet the process can be laborious and time-consuming for some students. It is understanding why it may be vital to increasing writing efficiency if this describes you.

1. Poor Planning:

One of the primary factors contributing to slow essay writing is ineffective planning. Students often need to create an outline before they can skip the paper and create a system – leading them down an unproductive path and producing incomplete essays. To prevent this issue from arising again, take time to understand your prompt before creating an outline that includes an introduction, main points, and conclusion points – making such a roadmap will ensure a logical flow of thoughts and an efficient writing experience.

2. Procrastination and Poor Time Management:

Procrastination is an all-too-common problem among students. Delaying writing until the last minute often leads to rushed and ineffective work, so proper time management is integral to successful essay writing. Break down the writing process into smaller tasks – allocating specific time slots for research, outlining, drafting, editing, and intermediate deadlines at every step – for optimal speed and success in writing essays. You’ll significantly speed up your writing by eliminating procrastination and creating an organized schedule!

3. Perfectionism:

Striving for perfection during the initial draft stage can impede writing progress significantly, so consider it more of a work in progress and aim for it when editing is finished. Focus on writing freely without overthinking each sentence until ideas surface; revisit to edit and refine as soon as you have something on paper – this approach not only expedites writing progress but also alleviates mental strain associated with trying for perfection right from the start.

4. Distractions and Lack of Focus:

An environment filled with distractions can hamper writing progress. To increase productivity and speed up writing time, identify and eliminate potential sources of disruption such as social media posts, notifications, or noise pollution. Designate a space dedicated to writing so you can focus without interruption from social media feeds or notifications; utilize productivity tools like website blockers to block unnecessary websites; creating such an atmosphere will drastically speed up writing.

5. Limited Research and Understanding:

Poor research before beginning writing can cause frequent interruptions and slow progress. Do your homework and organize your findings before writing your essay – this will lay down a solid foundation to build. If you want to research services that might be helpful, check out realreviews.io to get reviews about any service. Gaining in-depth knowledge about the subject matter allows for more accessible communication of ideas while eliminating interruptions during the writing process.  

6. Overthinking and Doubting Oneself:

Overthinking and self-doubt can be paralyzing, slowing the writing process down dramatically. Put your trust in your knowledge and abilities – writing is an art that grows through practice; put aside any inner criticism during the initial drafting stage to focus on getting ideas down first before refining or revising them later if necessary. Your writing speed will naturally increase by eliminating self-doubt and silencing your inner critic.

7. Knowledge of the Topic:

Regardless of your chosen topic, writing can become cumbersome if it’s unfamiliar to you due to research or gathering information. Before beginning any writing task, ensure you possess in-depth knowledge about its subject matter – conduct any necessary investigation before beginning! Preparation will make writing faster and less disruptive overall.

8. Ineffective Writing Techniques:

Utilizing ineffective writing techniques can impede essay completion significantly, so experiment with different writing approaches until you find one that suits you. Some students find writing a quick, rough first draft beneficial. In contrast, others prefer more structured methods where each sentence must be considered individually as they write. Find the technique that fits best with your style to enable faster essay composition while maintaining quality.

9. Limited Confidence in Writing Skills:

Lacking confidence in your writing abilities can cause hesitation and a slow writing pace, so practice regularly and seek constructive feedback to boost it. Workshops or tutors help build more assurance with them; as your confidence rises, so will your ability to express ideas more effortlessly on paper.

10. Overrely on Perfection:

Although striving for quality is critical, striving for perfection may become detrimental. Understanding that writing is an iterative process, with revisions playing an integral part in refining your work, is crucial in making the writing process efficient and fluid. Instead of getting stuck into perfecting every sentence during the initial draft stage, focus on communicating your ideas coherently while realizing perfection can only be attained through careful editing and revisions. This mindset shift can free you up from having to produce flawless prose from the outset and allow for a more efficient writing experience overall.


Addressing the factors contributing to slow essay writing is vital for increasing efficiency and productivity. From poor planning, procrastination, distractions, or lack of confidence to developing structured approaches and time management techniques that foster trust – by employing targeted strategies, you can overcome any hurdles standing in the way of more quickly producing well-crafted and timely essays.

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