Whether it’s while studying or in academic operations: getting started with writing is a challenge for many people. An honest self-analysis and the right support help to overcome the fear of getting cracking.
This article comes from a patchwork writer. It was written in individual passages, and only combined into a well-rounded article right at the end. The text would have arisen very differently with a version writer, grand plan writer or diver - more diverse, structured or spontaneous. Although in reality the types of writer are rarely as clear-cut as in theory, recognising and accepting your own writing process can be a first measure against the dreaded phenomenon of writer's block. This is why the Project for successful teaching and learning (PerLe) at Kiel University offers advice-seekers a writer type test as part of its writing consultation services. The simple multiple-choice test is not a scientific procedure, but it can serve as a low-threshold start to tackling the weighty topic of academic writing.
The PerLe team are familiar with the common writing problems. "One problem which the students come to us with again and again is procrastination, i.e. avoiding and putting off the writing," said Dr Julia Müller, coordinator for language and writing skills. During professional writing consultation, it can be quickly determined what fears and obstacles are causing the procrastination. And these are often self-induced. "Especially with academic writing, it may be useful to initially switch off the inner censorship, and separate the writing process from the perfect end product," explained Müller. To achieve this, creative writing techniques are also used, such as spontaneously diving straight in to writing, or composing text precursors. But it’s not always due to the blank page. "There are many people who believe that they have writer's block. But actually, they just don't know what the next step is," explained the expert. Being organised and fact checking play a major role: What is my specific question? Which formalities must be completed? How do I quote correctly? "Especially those who have little experience are afraid to ask what might be seen as stupid questions," said Müller. It helps to talk about such topics in a judgement-free environment. The important thing is to seek advice before tangible fears have developed.
A further point of contact on campus is Kiel University Library (UB). Currently, there are mainly digital offers of assistance: video tutorials and guides on wide-ranging topics, from finding research topics and literature right through to scientific writing and collaborative work, including software tips on bibliographic and statistical tools. Dr Rüdiger Schütt, head of public relations at the UB, has a special tip for advice seekers: "There are specialist academic librarians at the UB. In consultation with the institutes, they support the departments and provide subject-specific information. Their expertise is not only available to scientists, but also especially to students."
Projekt erfolgreiches Lehren und Lernen (PerLe - Project for successful teaching and learning):
- The writer type test can be completed as part of the writing consultation offered at PerLe. Similar tests can also be found on the Internet, e.g. here: bit.ly/tu-darmstadt-schreibtypentest
- Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the writing consultation is currently only available via telephone or video conference. Appointments available via email@example.com. More information can be found under www.perle.uni-kiel.de
Kiel University Library (UB):
- Video tutorials and e-learning offers about the UB services at www.ub.uni-kiel.de/de/beratung-kurse/e-learning-angebote