Creative Hurdles: Why Your Students Experience Writer’s Block

Three students writing

Even though your young pupils have the most vivid imaginations, they can get stuck in a creative rut, too. If you’ve been teaching writing for years now, you’ve had some students coming up to you showing a blank worksheet, complaining about how they can never get anything on paper. The truth is, everybody encounters mental pits that prevent creative progress. But before you try to help your student crawl out of these pits, understand why they happen. You’ll help them better in their writing journey when you reach out and know where the struggles come from. Here are some reasons why your students have writer’s block:

Fear

The object of this emotion can be different things. It can be fear of making their ideas known or being judged for their work. It can also be coming from the possibility of getting a low score after putting in lots of effort. As early as now, you should be addressing this issue. Otherwise, this can be the very reason why they won’t push through with writing. Remember that fear paralyzes. Reassure your struggling students that fear is normal. But then tell them that feeding that anxiety should never be an option. Let them draft mind maps, linking words and phrases together. From there, point out interesting associations and ask them probing questions. With this exercise, you’re not only helping them face their fears but also equipping them with skills crucial to writing preparation.

A lack of structure

In other instances, students are stuck because they don’t know where to start. Either the task is too broad that it’s challenging to narrow down ideas or it’s too vague that they can’t accurately pinpoint what you expect from them. Thankfully, it’s easy to fix this. You have to be clear about the writing exercise. Instead of giving a blanket statement like “Write a fairy tale,” go for something like “Describe the princess protagonist in four sentences” or “Narrate an argument between the witch and the prince in one paragraph.” These alternative directions break down the overwhelming task of writing a fairy tale while maintaining a sense of clarity. Hopefully, this will make it easier for the kids to take on the seatwork. If you’re looking for student-friendly worksheets for your class, use available technology, like an online storybook creator. With tools like this, your students can easily access their sheets and collaborate with others. On your end, it’s easier to track your pupils’ progress.

Exhaustion

Female writer resting in her workplace

It’s also possible that physical tiredness clogs the brain and its creative juices. Or it might be that your students have been receiving information for an extended period that they can’t focus on the task at hand anymore. In these instances, you need “brain breaks.” Let your students rest after your writing lesson or before you introduce the exercise. Five to 10 minutes of free activity or stretching is good. You can also allow them to close their eyes and let their minds wander. Daydreaming is good for putting the brain at rest and strengthening the imagination.

Ultimately, writer’s block can affect even your most creative students. Before rescuing them from the mental pit, understand what they’re going through so that you can improve their writing journey.