10 techniques to overcome writer’s block in the virtual classroom

Being an online student does not just mean being present in the virtual classroom. Extra time must also be spent trying to learn the presented knowledge. That’s where the assignments come in. Unlike the standard assessments in the virtual classroom that are used during the online training, assignments are often given by the online tutors as homework. Obviously, the goal is for your students to complete these assignments without making any mistakes, but often it is even more important for them to simply complete them. 

What is writer’s block and why do we get it?

Everyone has faced it: you, the teacher, when having to write out your course program or your students with their assignments. Then you try to focus and to let things flow. However, your head is totally empty and the document on your screen remains empty.

This condition is defined as writer’s block. It is the inability to produce new work or to express yourself creatively. It is a real documented problem. The most common reason for writer’s block to appear is due to writer’s anxiety, which involves having apprehensive and pessimistic feelings about completing an assessment in the virtual classroom. The block may occur while drafting a literature project. It could also appear several times when performing a totally different task. Therefore, the condition is usually situational and has nothing to do with our mental condition or any disability.

Online students are not born with writer’s block. They become anxious due to negative experiences in their life. Writer’s block is a common threat among performers that have high expectations for themselves or who are more sensitive and want to avoid failure and criticism. And that’s where the role of the online tutor comes in. As a student mentor you will often face problems with a student’s inability to complete a task. But you have to know how you can help them.

The truth is that the first step to completing an assignment is… to start. However, there are some more tips to implement to help your students overcome their writer’s block.

Top 10 techniques to overcome writer’s block in the virtual classroom

The bad news is that there are no universal rules. The good news is that you can try all of the top techniques and find the most suitable ones for you or your students. These techniques have helped many people get back on the writing track. However, keep in mind that personal preferences may change over time. The solution? To be curious and try new things.

  1. Step away and do something creative – dance, paint, or play the ukulele. Keep exercising the creative part of you and the writing will follow.
  2. Move it – mental fatigue is greater than the physical one. So try practicing an active break: dance, run, or jump around. The blood flow will make you more concentrated, happy, and relaxed.
  3. Try freewriting – you can do it. Just write. Don’t try to say or produce anything; just get those words on paper. No excuses. No justifications.
  4. Change your environment -challenge your perspective and move your physical workplace. This may help to remove all subconscious anxiety that is connected to a place or situation.
  5. Eliminate distractors – this means turning off the phone and TV, closing browsers on your computer, and even unplugging the fridge. Make room for your brain to accept that you are going to finish your assignment now. The lack of outside stimuli and distractors often leads to concentration and results.
  6. Schedule a writing routine – make time for daily writing. Select the most productive time for you and never miss it. Soon your brain will accept the change and you will find it easier to concentrate and write.
  7. Brainstorm ideas in unfamiliar ways – if you’re used to practicing free associations, try bullet points or drawings instead. The more senses you include while completing a task, the more creative challenges you will be willing to face in the future.
  8. Create a mental anchor for yourself – this can be literally anything from a special dance to making a cup of coffee. Associate the anchor to a particular action and let your brain follow the pattern. Having an anchor will help your performance while keeping the fear and anxiety away.
  9. Play – step away from your current work and the worries associated with it, and wake up the child inside you. Play twister with a friend, spoil the dog with kisses, or try darts. Your brain will have a rest and you will have some fun.
  10. Find your inspiration – we all admire someone. When suffering from writer’s block, dig into their history to motivate yourself. They can be an athlete or a spiritual leader. Find their quotes, watch videos about them, or read part of their biography. Start with something inspiring and you’ll end up with a completed project.

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Tanya Ilieva has strong experience in journalism, advertising, creative copywriting and digital marketing. She has a PhD in Graphic design from Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Some of her creative works in advertising has been rewarded both in Bulgaria and abroad. Her fields of interest include: philosophy of language, semiotics, visual metaphors, linguistic.
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