Writer’s block — we’ve all experienced it at some point or another. Whether it was for a simple blog post or a lengthy research paper, everyone is prone to encountering this common obstacle in writing. That’s why I’ve decided to provide you with five tips to help overcome writer’s block.
The worst thing you can do when you get a paper assigned is put if off until the last minute. By waiting to start a writing assignment, you are already jumping to the conclusion that you know what you’ll be writing about and that it’ll be a piece of cake. Whereas in reality, the longer you wait to start writing, the harder it will be to think of a topic or come up with your arguments. By allowing yourself plenty of time, you’ll be able to pace yourself which will help with brainstorming topics, arguments and more.
Create an outline.
One of the best ways to avoid encountering writer’s block is to have a thought-out plan of what you’ll be writing about. From my experience, I’ve found my best writing is done when I outline my assignment with key messages. By doing this, you’ll go into your writing with a strong sense of what you’re writing about, why you’re writing about it and what your desired outcome is. Not only will this provide clarity from the start but it’ll also take less time to write your assignment since you have a plan laid out in front of you.
While it may sound ideal to some people to go to a library for five hours and bang out a 10-page paper, the reality is it most likely will not happen. If it does happen, that may imply that the quality of your writing was not at its best. Your brain needs to be given breaks. Whether this means going for a walk outside, listening to music or watching a quick video, allow yourself to relax for a few minutes before going back to writing can significantly improve your brain’s thought process and creativity.
Find inspiration around you.
One of the hardest aspects of writing is finding a topic of interest that will compel you to write about it. While this usually happens at the beginning of the writing process, some people can run into it later on as well. Whenever you encounter it, the best piece of advice I can give you is to look for inspiration around you. Again, this may require you to take some sort of break. Perhaps talking with people will stir an idea or just looking at your surroundings may spark something. I’ve found inspiration everywhere from a hotel bathroom to a doctor’s office.
Have people proofread as you write.
For the most part, people will write their entire paper, blog post or story and then go back and edit it. While this may work in some cases, what happens if you encounter writer’s block midway through your writing? You’ll feel stuck and lost. Take this opportunity to have someone edit your work thus far. Explain that you don’t know where your argument or next idea should go and perhaps your peer will be able to offer some advice. While you don’t have to do what they suggest, it may help get your writing wheels turning and result in clarity of what your next step should be.
The five tips I’ve presented to you above are what helps me most when I run into writer’s block. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t run into the obstacle while writing this post! But again, I followed some of my own advice and took breaks when necessary. Writer’s block will affect everyone at some point. It’s up to you to find what techniques work best for overcoming it. If you have other tips or insight on how to conquer writer’s block, feel free to leave them below!
Emma Ingram is a junior studying public relations and strategic communication at American University in Washington, D.C. This year she is serving as the president of her school’s PRSSA Chapter. She was previously the Chapter’s vice president. She also serves on the 2017–2018 Industry News and Current Events Subcommittee for PRSSA National. Follow her on Twitter @emmaaingramm or connect with her on Linkedin.