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This Guide was created as a joint project of the Academic Resource Center and the William H. Hannon Library.

Drafting Strategies

  1. Start with some kernel of an idea: Begin with some form of a preliminary thesis and expect that it will eventually morph into something else. Having a preliminary thesis will act as a compass for your writing to keep you focused on the prize so to speak. Without this, you may wander too far astray from your intended message. (See handout on thesis formulation.)​
  2. Organize: Examine the information generated from your invention exercises (see Brainstorming Strategies) and begin to group your ideas together. A formal outline isn’t necessary, but some idea of what’s going first, second, third, etc. is important.​
  3. Give your language editor the day off: Don’t worry about how beautiful the sentence will sound. Right now, you are focusing on content, not form. Just get the ideas down on paper in whatever form they come from your head. Fixing the language can be saved for a later draft.​
  4. Take advantage of word processing capabilities: Split screen allows you to place your outline, introduction, freewriting notes, etc. next to your draft. The comments feature under Track Changes allows you to write comments in margins for future reference so you don’t forget moments of inspiration.​
  5. Benefit from incubation: When you stop writing, let your ideas develop naturally in your head. Sometimes you’ll get an inspiration out of nowhere when you’re waking up, walking to class, talking to a classmate. Jot these ideas down before you forget them.


Overcoming Writer's Block

  1. Don’t start from scratch. Have all your brainstorming or other notes close at hand and arranged according to your organizational plan to jump-start you.
  2. Start anywhere. You don’t have to start with the introduction; begin with the section that you are most comfortable with or feel the strongest about. Type your preliminary thesis statement and then jump into the body paragraphs.
  3. Write from your head what you already know. Review your notes, but then just free-write. You’d be surprised at how much you know on the topic.
  4. Write in stretches of 30 minutes without stopping. Writing provides momentum, so don’t squander it.
  5. Don’t let small questions bog you down. Make a note of it and move on.
  6. Change your writing mode – from computer to paper and pen, or vice versa.
  7. Change your setting – study room in the library, noisy café, dorm room.
  8. Change your strategy: if you’ve been working on developing point A and you’ve reached a roadblock, turn to a different part of the paper to continue (point B or the introduction).
  9. Set aside your phone and social media 

Links to Other Resources