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Responding to Writer's Block and Anxiety about Public Speaking

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PWR instructors work with a range of writing and speaking issues during conferences with students and often in many extra conferences as well.  Remember that you don’t have to assume all the responsibility yourself; the Hume Center can give students extensive support for a wide range of writing-related and public speaking-related issues.

Occasionally you will encounter students with writing anxiety that can result in writer’s block.  Such students need understanding and special help.  Approaches to taking the pressure off the student include:

  • inform the student that you don’t need a full essay—just a page or two will do,
  • encourage them to hand-write a draft if that seems less threatening,
  • suggest sitting at a computer and typing for an hour or so—whatever comes to mind. Doing so may loosen the student up enough to get the writing started,
  • suggest that the student try recording or talking out a draft or notes, and then transcribing.

Some students in PWR 2 also may demonstrate extreme anxiety about public speaking.  The Oral Communication Tutors (OCTs) at Hume can help students overcome much general anxiety through preparation and feedback. The Director of Oral Communications, Doree Allen ( also is a great resource for you to consult to develop strategies to support particularly anxious students.

Notify the PWR directors about a student whose academic progress may be jeopardized by writing anxiety or anxiety about public speaking, so that we can work together to help the student progress.

For more information about addressing writer's block, check out the Hume Center's handout on Writing Apprehension.