The cursor continues to blink on the blank document. You have a paper to write for your next class. It’s due soon. And you have no idea what to write, or how to start.

The kids are in bed, hopefully sound asleep. Your spouse is doing his or her own work. Now, it’s time for you to write the research essay you’d been procrastinating on all week.

But, the words just don’t come. And you continue to stare at the blinking cursor.

Odds are, this hesitation, frustration and inability to form complete sentences has happened to all students. You may rather want to binge watch your new show, or try out a new cookie recipe or engage in some other favorite hobby than try and write a paper.

Yet writing that paper brings you another step closer to pursuing your personal and professional goals. You know it’s important.

Wonder how to build up the inspiration to let your words start flowing? Follow these simple steps to cultivate motivation and get that paper written:


In another blog article, we mentioned a way to improve your study habits includes finding the right location. To be ready to write, your environment should cater to your need to focus.

As an adult student, the location you work may require flexibility. It may be a coffee shop a few blocks down from your house; or an empty conference room in your office; or a quiet library workspace.

And if you’re unable to escape the constant craziness of life, noise-canceling headphones may just be a good investment.

The goal in establishing your working environment is to let your thoughts and words flow freely, without constant interruptions.


You’re just about to write a sentence and you hear a ‘ping’ from your phone notifying you that someone just liked your photo on Facebook. And soon, rather than writing your next paragraph in your paper, you are commenting on your friend’s updated profile picture.

Some may find turning off their phone to work unimaginable. How can you not be constantly available via technology? Yet, to increase your focus on the paper that has yet to be written, put it on silent.

Removing the distraction of bings and rings from texts, emails and Facebook notifications can turn your attention from the hundreds of other things going on to forming that intro, body and conclusion of your paper.


Have six pages to write? It may not be best to set your goal to finish all six in one sitting. Such a goal may feel overwhelmingly daunting – creating another barrier in finishing the assignment.

In setting your goal for writing, be sure to follow the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to ensure success.

  • S—Specific: Rather than telling yourself you’ll write a few sentences and cite a few sources, get detailed. Write three pages with using at least three sources.
  • M—Measurable: Page length or word count are benchmarks that can be easily measured and evaluated.
  • A—Achievable: Ensure the length and content goal you set is actually something you can physically and mentally complete in the time you allot yourself. Writing ten pages in a half hour may just be too extreme.
  • R—Relevant: The goal you set in writing your paper should assist you in pursuing your professional and personal endeavors. It’s not just an assignment. It’s equipping you.
  • T—Timely: Setting a deadline, whether given on the syllabus or the one you give yourself before that, gives you the mental note of what and when to get it done. Perhaps you could break up your work on the paper into different sections and set reachable deadlines for each section.


Writing the paper is about more than getting a good grade. It’s more than moving on to the next course. Writing this paper is one more step toward achieving your personal and professional goals.

Think about and answer the question of why you’re pursuing your degree. It may be a combination of factors: to show your children your commitment to education, to receive a promotion, to follow a dream that you missed out on, to perform better in your current role.

Whatever your answer, you’re in your degree program for a reason. Getting your thoughts and arguments down on paper is just one next step toward fulfilling that reason.

Cornerstone University offers numerous Academic Support resources to equip you to succeed in your degree program, whether that’s in writing a paper or other assignment.

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