How to Bust Through Writer's Block
Most students have encountered writer’s block while working on a paper. Sometimes stress or our fears about writing can leave us immobilized. But you don’t need to feel paralyzed by a white screen and a blinking cursor. Here are ten tips to help you cure writer’s block.
1. Identify the problem.
If you don’t know how to proceed while working on a paper, it’s good to pin-point the problem. Are you having difficulties starting? Is your paper too short? Are you having trouble organizing your thoughts? Are you worried about how your paper will be received? Figuring out your stumbling block will help you know how to proceed.
2. Is it really writers block or is it procrastination?
Sometimes students label avoidance “writer block” when they really just don’t feel like working on a paper. Just sitting down to start can be enough to get over this problem. Even if you don’t think your ideas are fully formed or polished, start to type them out.
3. Get scratch paper.
Fear can be a cause of writer’s block, particularly when the paper is for an important grade. One way to get over this fear is to start writing in a format that your professor or peers will never see, like on scrap paper or in a notebook. Writing out notes can also help you organize your thoughts.
4. Talk it out.
Sometimes we know what we want to write, but not how to write it. For some people, a verbal discussion can clarify your thoughts. Talk about your paper topic with a classmate, professor, or even a parent. They may even be able to suggest something you haven’t considered.
5. Make it visual.
Try drawing a diagram or outline of your paper. For some, this may help show what a paper is missing, and provide a starting point for where to expand.
6. Take a break.
If you’ve been working for 30 minutes or more when you hit the writer’s block wall, you may just need a study break. Try some yoga, meditation, or even jump in the shower. Not only will a break help you feel refreshed, a new idea may come to you while doing something else.
7. Revisit your sources.
If you’re writing a paper for a literature class, re-read the work your paper is about. If you’re working on a research paper, comb your sources for new ideas.
8. Change your setting.
New research suggests that changing your location can improve the quality of your study. Packing up and moving can also be a mini-study break.
9. Rest, eat.
Mental exhaustion easily leads to writer’s block. If you’re up late and having problems writing, try going to bed and doing more work in the morning. Also, malnutrition can impact how you feel, so make sure you’re eating enough.
10. See what others have written.
Look for articles or books that have been written about the subject you’re working on, or a subject that’s closely related. Not only can you mine these works for ideas, it will also make your research more thorough. You can become a better writer by noticing the tactics that others have used when addressing your subject.
How to Become a Better Writer
Creative Writing Degree Profile
10 Tips for Writing Better College Papers