Writer’s block is not just for authors. It happens to us as pro se litigants more often than not.
We’ve got to crank out this motion to dismiss by the deadline, right? Or maybe your opponent’s motion for summary judgment is already scheduled for hearing and your response hasn’t been filed.
How long are you going to stare at that blank page?
Perhaps it’s not completely blank. You’ve got a caption and a title, and even the certificate of service is ready. But what goes in between them?
For starters, there are three things you must include:
- The standard the judge will use to decide the issue. On a motion to dismiss, there’s a problem with jurisdiction, venue, the complaint itself or service on the defendant.
- All relevant facts. For example, the foreclosure action was filed in a county different from the property location.
- Citations to case law to aid the judge in making the right decision (in your favor, of course).
So you may as well start filling up that blank page with these. It needs organizing, for sure, but you’re at least halfway done with your filing already. You’ve got your facts, your law and your argument, the main ingredients in any motion or response.
But rather than moving sentences and paragraphs around on the page, here’s a pro tip: Set your document aside, start the voice recorder on your smartphone or computer, stand up and deliver your argument as though you were speaking to the judge in court.
I know, crazy, right? But think about it. You’ve got the entire argument fresh in your mind. You just need it organized.
Turns out your first pass at verbalizing your argument is the best organization the written document could hope for. It promises to be short, sweet and to the point.
What happens next? Write down what you said. Listen to your recording and transcribe it. When you’re done, you’ve got a great first draft of your motion or response.
You’ve made it past pro se writer’s block!
That’s just the beginning, of course. You’re going to edit and refine your legal document until you get it just right. But it’s much easier to reach the finish line when you’re not staring at a blank page.
There are lots of good ideas for handling writer’s block, but you now have one dedicated to writing your best legal filing.
Give it a try and let me know if it works for you.