Everyone has experienced writer’s block at some point in time – whether it’s while writing a college essay, a course research paper or a first-draft of a dissertation.
Whether or not writing comes naturally to you isn’t the issue – it happens to everyone and everyone needs to write something at some point in their academic career.
No matter what you’re writing about, writer’s block can literally put a roadblock in your path to success. Getting rid of it will help you continue your stream of productivity and allow you to move forward in your tasks.
Here are some helpful hints to utilize when trying to overcome writer’s block:
Create an Outline
Sometimes, you know what you want to say but don’t know how to say it. If you organize out your points in outline form, it’s much easier to fill in the blanks in between.
Divide your sections by topics or points, which will become your discussion paragraphs.
If you have any quotations you’d like to incorporate, add them to the relevant sections within the outline.
You can even add how you want to begin and end, so you’ll have everything laid out from start to finish.
Once you’re finished, you just need to add in wording to formulate clear thoughts, but all of the difficult work is already finished since you know what you’re going to say.
Stop Trying to Write
Walk away. Do something else that takes your mind off of trying to write.
It may be that your brain just needs a break and some time to recharge. There’s nothing wrong with stopping for a while and picking up where you left off after you’ve had a break.
Rest Your Brain
Maybe you’re tired. Maybe something else is on your mind. Whatever it is that’s blocking you clearly needs time, so let your mind work it out by resting and relaxing.
You can get back to writing when you’re recharged and the block has removed itself from the equation.
Do Something Creative
If you do something other than writing, but still creative, it’ll get your brain recharged in terms of creativity. It can help to inspire you and boost the writing process back into gear.
Have you ever needed to know something on cue? You may know it inside-and-out but, when it comes time to recite, you choke.
The same goes for writing. If you need to come up with something under pressure, it can hinder you speechless, so to speak.
While some people claim to write well under pressure, that’s likely not true for most people.
Avoid procrastinating so you have time to work through the writing process thoroughly, without pressure – if you can help it. If deadlines come into play, and you don’t have control over the situation, simply try another tip!
Write about Something Else
Just exercising writing – about your day, a story or anything else – will help get your brain into writing mode and help get you back on track.
Don’t Pressure Yourself
It’s not going to help if you put yourself down for having a block. It happens to the best of writers, so just take a break or try one of the above tips instead!
What helps you overcome writer’s block?
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Bounce ideas off classmates, friends, or family members. Ask general questions to people who are familiar with your topic. What seems important to them? What background, terms, or other ideas will they need to know in order to understand your message? Do they disagree with your argument or the points you make? If so, why?
Summarize your own work. In the margins of your paper (or using comment bubbles), write a one-sentence summary of the purpose of each paragraph. Review your summaries to get a clearer idea of your direction, the overall flow of the paper, and how far you still need to go.
Take another look. Ask yourself a few questions: Is this information necessary? Does it add to my argument? What message am I trying to convey? Are these ideas contributing to that message? What ideas could I be missing? When in doubt, read more on your topic—it is never a bad idea to go back to your sources and expand your knowledge when you are trying to work your way out of writer’s block.