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Get Past Essay “Brain Fog”

You’re deep in college essay writing, and the worst happens – you’re struck with writer’s block!


The dreaded “brain fog” can be hard to get through, especially if you’re on a tight deadline. Here are a few things you can do to help break out of the funk




Jot down some ideas of what you might want to write about (topics, people, events – whatever “large” idea you have) on a piece of paper. Or, my personal favorite and if you have access to it, a great tool is a whiteboard!


Write the topic in big writing in the middle of the whiteboard, and around it, just write any words or phrases that come to mind. You will likely have done some kind of similar exercise when you were in elementary school, and it can be a wonderful way to get ideas out of your head and (literally!) out in front of you.


Do this for a few of your topic ideas and see which you found the easiest to write words and phrases around. Which looks like it might lend itself to a compelling essay? Take some time to see what you have come up with and what you like the best.


Free write


This is another great way to brainstorm. Pull out your laptop, notebook or whatever it is that you like writing on, and just start writing!


Don’t worry about if it’s on topic or not, don’t worry about grammar and spelling – just write. It may come together like a diary, a story, a play, a song – it doesn’t matter. Just keep writing.


When you’re done, leave it for a while. Come back to it, re-read it, and see what ideas stand out to you. You may even be able to begin editing together an essay from that free write entry!  


Talk your idea out with a friend, parent, sibling – or your Insight Counselor!


Talking to another person that you are comfortable sharing your essay ideas with is a great way to bounce around ideas and get creative feedback. You might find that by talking out your ideas, the essay starts to form in your head. The person listening to you may ask questions that help to lead you in a new direction or point out where a gap in your essay might be.


Talk to a few people and get some different perspectives. After each discussion, write down some quick notes in a notebook or even the notes app on your phone. This will help you come back to the suggestions if you’re not able to sit down and spend some time writing right after your discussion.


Try to work as far ahead as you can


One thing that can make writer’s block even harder is knowing you’re on a tight deadline. Try to work as far ahead as possible to allow yourself creative time to write the best essay you can! This also gives you the most chance to write something you’re proud of, leave it for a while, and come back to it with fresh eyes for those final edits.



Good luck with your essay writing and remember, no one can tell your story better than you can! Get writing!



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