Writing Well: Panic in the Streets

Panic in the Streets

What happens if you have an anxiety attack during a pressure writing situation?

  • Stop writing.
  • Close your eyes for a moment.
  • Take several slow, deep breaths.
  • Tell yourself that you're addressing one issue at a time.
  • Tell yourself that every part of the question you answer is a point in your pocket.
  • Open your eyes and keep writing.
  • Take it step by step.

Last Licks

The most successful essays always fulfill their purpose, address their audience, and have a logical organization, whether they're written at your leisure or under the gun. Good writing is complete and logical—even when it's written under pressure.

Create a checklist like this one to use when you have to write under pressure.

Pressure Writing Checklist


  • Am I well prepared for this test?
  • Did I get enough sleep?
  • Have I eaten?
  • Am I in the right place taking the correct test?
Writer's Block

Never try to snow your reader. If you don't know the answer, don't make one up. You're not writing fiction, ladies and gentlemen, you're writing fact.


  • Have I read the directions? Do I understand the task?
  • Did I read the entire test before I started to write?
  • Have I analyzed my audience and purpose?
  • If I have a choice, have I selected the question I can answer most fully?
  • Do I understand the question? Have I found the key words?
  • Have I budgeted my time well?
  • Did I select a logical and suitable method of organization?
  • Have I made a simple outline?


  • As I write, am I pacing myself well?
  • Is my answer complete?
  • Did I select vivid, specific words?
  • Do my paragraphs contain sufficient detail?
  • Are my facts correct?
  • Have I included some original insight?


  • Did I edit and revise my essay?
  • Did I proofread carefully to eliminate distracting and careless errors?
  • Have I used all my time?
  • Have I labeled every part of my response with my name and other necessary information?
  • Did I hand in everything required, such as scrap paper and the test booklet as well as the finished essay?
book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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