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Understanding Writing Blocks

Keith Hjortshoj

Publication Date - February 2001

ISBN: 9780195141368

160 pages
5-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches


Why do capable students and scholars fail to complete writing projects? What are "writing blocks," and how can writers overcome them? Why are writing blocks more common for advanced and experienced writers who are not supposed to need help? And why are they more common in the humanities than in the sciences? Keith Hjortshoj answers these and other questions in Understanding Writing Blocks. This book demystifies the causes of writing blocks, which are often ignored, misunderstood, or attributed to obscure psychological disorders. Hjortshoj examines blocks instead as real writing problems arising from specific misconceptions, writing behaviors, and rhetorical factors present at different stages of the writing process. In a lively and informative style, he defines the nature of writing blocks, examines their causes, and offers advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and professional writers the diagnostic tools and strategies necessary for getting their work done. Although appropriate for any writing course, Understanding Writing Blocks targets advanced composition students and graduate writers who are most likely to encounter immobilizing obstacles, and whose experience supports the author's assertion that a writing block is usually "an affliction of the good writer." Hjortshoj draws his material and evidence from extensive research, interviews, and consultations with blocked writers from his twenty-five years of teaching. Especially helpful to students working on dissertations and other complex projects, Understanding Writing Blocks illuminates the factors that undermine writing ability in a wide range of endeavors.

Table of Contents

    1. Are Writing Blocks Real?
    A Personal Problem?
    What Blocks Are Not
    Thought and Movement
    Blocks Are Real Writing Problems
    2. Product and Process
    The Value of Privacy
    Stage Fright in Rhearsal
    What Are You Actually Doing?
    The Phases of the Writing Process
    3. Lines, Loops, and Delays
    Making Lines Out of Loops
    Euclidian Myths
    Spiral Progress
    4. Methods, Standards, and Premature Judgments
    Many Right Ways
    Whose Standards Are You Trying to Meet?
    The Challenge of Governing Expectations
    5. Transitional Blocks in Undergraduate Studies
    Developmental Blocks in the Transition to College
    Facing the Necessity of Revision
    Institutional Causes and Unfortunate Solutions
    6. What Is Your Thesis?
    Endless Introductions
    What Writers Need
    Rhetorical Supports in the Sciences
    7. Putting Writing in Its Place
    Making the Next Move
    Syntactic Block
    Settling for Less
    Gender, Time, and Space
    8. Scholarly Production
    A Hidden Category
    Binge Writng Versus Moderation
    Costs and Benefits
    9. What Can You Do?
    The Normality of Writing Blocks
    The Reality of a Writing Block
    What You Can Do
    A Note to Teachers and Advisors
    What Teachers Can Do
    What Advisors Can Do

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