We all get writer’s block from time to time, and getting past it can be challenging. It’s okay to step away when your thoughts aren’t flowing as they should, or if you need to tackle your essay from a different angle.
Each person is different. For me, writing my thoughts comes more easily in the morning. It’s more quiet, and I get more done when I’m un-rushed and uninterrupted. You may find it easier to brainstorm in the evening or while listening to music. Sometimes the best way to get inspiration for your scholarship essay is to take a break and step away for a few minutes, hours, or even days. Sleeping it off can also help you see things in a whole new light.
But how do you get inspired if you’ve tried all of the above, but the ideas still aren’t flowing? Here are a few tips that might help.
1. Read the essay topic again.
As you read the topic, read it more carefully and jot down any ideas that come to mind. Include any important questions from the instructions and be sure to address them in your essay.
2. Write an outline.
Your outline doesn’t have to be perfect. Think of it as a building block you can expound on as you write your essay. The great thing about outlines is they are just templates. You can use them to rearrange your thoughts, add other bullet points, and remove any points that don’t line up with the topic.
3. Read other essays.
Review essays of previous winners on the donor’s website if they’re available. This gives you a glimpse of what the donor likes to see. If the donor’s website doesn’t include other winners’ essays, check out other essays in books or other websites. For additional inspiration, review scholarship essays that are similar to your prompt. Make a note of any ideas that jump out at you. Put down what you liked and/or disliked about the essay. How did the winner make their essay unique? How you can make yours stand out too?
4. Research ideas.
Researching gives you additional ideas you didn’t think of before. Zero in on what you might choose to write abut. This is especially useful if you weren’t provided an essay prompt, but were asked to come up with your own.
5. Research the donor.
You can learn a lot about the donor or organization through their website. Review the organization’s mission, goals and beliefs. Dig deep into your own goals, aspirations, character and values. Can you find attributes that align with the donor’s? Do you really care about what they care about? Caring lets you to write from your heart. If nothing aligns or you only share the organization’s passion because you want their scholarship, it may be time to move on.
6. Look outside.
Need to get the creative juices flowing? Step outdoors. If you’re writing an essay about music, for example, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and go to a concert, play a guitar, or find other inspirations that mesh with what you’re writing about. If you’re writing an essay for an organization who cares about nature, venture outdoors, go camping or do some gardening to find some inspiration.
7. Read a book.
Books can help you see the world differently and inspire you in a new way. Can you relate to the protagonist’s struggles or journey? How did they overcome the problems they faced and come out on top? What did you learn from their struggles? How can you overcome the issues you’ve faced in the past or are facing today? How did it change your perspective about life and put you on a new path?
8. Interview someone who inspires you.
Your interviewee doesn’t have to be a famous celebrity or public figure. Someone as approachable as a parent, teacher or mentor works too. You may be surprised what you learn during the question/answer session. Jot down your thoughts from the interview to find inspiration for your essay. This is a great option for prompts relating to “Who do you most admire and why?”
9. Brainstorm ideas.
Perform a mental dump and write down everything that comes to mind in an hour or two. Break your ideas into even smaller ideas until you can’t break them down any more. These types of brain dumps help with focus because they show you all your thoughts on paper. Review your list, then select two to three main ideas that jump out at you. Be sure your selected ideas align with the given prompt. Use them for inspiration in your scholarship essay with or without a prompt.
It’s natural for even the best writer to feel overwhelmed or run out of ideas every now and then. Thankfully, the world around us can stir up new ideas and help us get back on track.