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Writing a Strong Introduction Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 1, 2011

What To Do If You're Totally Stuck

Sometimes you simply can't get started on a writing assignment. You don't have an idea in your head of what to write, and you can't think of an opening sentence. The usual reason for this kind of paralysis is that you've procrastinated too long, left the work until the last minute, and now you're panicked. The polite name for this procrastination is writer's block, which makes it sound more like a disease than an excuse.

Whatever the cause or the name, there are ways out of this jam. The simplest thing to do is go back to the beginning and start over. Do some freewriting on the assigned topic; that should get you warmed up and focused on the topic.

If freewriting doesn't seem to be working, try creating a concept map. But instead of drawing it in the usual orderly way, make it a crazy one. Create a map with the nuttiest ideas you can think of; these off-beat ideas might lead your mind back to a more appropriate line of thought on the subject.

Another trick to getting jumpstarted is to attack the question. Do some freewriting, or list all the reasons you can think of why this is a bad assignment. You'll soon run out of bad reasons and find yourself adding good reasons to your list.

Whatever you do, concentrate. Unplug your iPod, turn off the TV and the phone, and apply yourself to the task at hand. You'll be so proud of yourself when you finish your writing assignment.

Practice: Evaluating Introductory Sentences

In the following chart, you'll find pairs of introductory sentences for assigned essay topics. Choose the sample sentence you consider stronger, and write a brief explanation of which introductory strategy the writer is using and why you think it is the stronger of the pair.

Writing a Strong Introduction

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