People have often told me that starting a paper is the hardest part of writing. Maybe they are right, but I think actually continuing the paper is difficult as well. Once I put that first sentence down, my thoughts get all confused and I have no idea how anything ties together. Writing a thesis is not an option at this point, and usually I just type “enter thesis here” at the end of my first paragraph during this first draft. However, as I progress, the writing becomes easier and honestly, the best advice anyone can give about writing is that you just have to do it.
For some reason, writers think that their first draft needs to be perfect. When writing a draft for the first time, people sometimes focus on their word choice and sounding “smart” instead of just getting their ideas onto paper. In reality, all you can hope to accomplish with a first draft is to form a coherent thought and hopefully find your thesis. Once that first sentence is complete, you have to make yourself keep typing if you ever hope to find an answer.
Using an outline first can help you put your thoughts together. If you outline or brainstorm before, go through your paper and write a paragraph or so for each idea and later you can worry about the transitions and if the points are even relevant. The whole point of a first draft is to draft out your ideas so you can fix them later.
Basically what I’m trying to say is don’t lose hope. All of us have stared at that blank Word document in horror as the deadline for our paper quickly approached. Instead of freaking out and procrastinating in hopes of a miracle, just start your paper the best way that you can. Once you have something written, you will be more relaxed and more able to revise your original draft to a focused paper. Eventually, a presentable paper will emerge and you will wonder where all of that fear had come from. Just don’t give up. :)