It’s two in the morning, you’ve been working on the same essay or assignment all day and you just completely hit that wall of not knowing where else to take this assignment— we’ve all been there. The frustration of not knowing what to put down but also not wanting to risk tanking your grade by putting a random assortment of words/numbers together sucks but there is definitely a way to get over the hump!
1. Start a new/different project
Most of the time when we hit a wall while working on something for too long it’s because we’ve been thinking about the same set of ideas for too long that nothing new arises from said ideas or methods. In this case, it’s best to “distract” your brain onto something else instead of procrastinating and forgetting about the task at hand completely. By doing this, you remain productive by keeping yourself preoccupied but also giving yourself enough of a mental breather that if and when you come back to your assignment you’ll have a fresh pair of new eyes to the subject at hand.
2. Go for a drive/run
Never neglect the power of getting up and doing something else to reinspire. Often times in a mental cramp we think that forcing ourselves to sit through the whole night working will push out better work when in reality it most likely is the opposite and counterintuitive. Inspiration comes in a variety of different settings and in varying ways. Sometimes allowing yourself a physical break (leaving your laptop or desk) can give you just enough stimulation to muster up something new and interesting. So, yes, your assignment is due soon, but squeezing a quick 10-minute jog or running a quick errand can help in the long run. (dun dun tiss)
3. Take a nap
Disclaimer: this suggestion is for people who have been in a funk for longer than three (3) business days. As noted, a creative funk is different than procrastination. If you’ve been working on something for a couple of days and have yet to hit the ground running on the task, this means you need a mental cleanse— meaning, girl, you’re psyching yourself out! Take a nap, whether a quick power nap or a much needed two-hour nap (no more and no less), and give yourself the (fair amount) of time you need to truly get prepared and ready to jump into the assignment with all you’ve got.
4. Discover something new
Most likely you’re feeling like you’re writing/saying the same thing in different ways when in writer’s block; and let’s be real, it’s probably because you are. With no new ideas circulating or coming to mind, you are essentially rewriting the same thing multiple times and this is to no value to your work. To avoid and aid this, give your mind some time to venture off to other areas that can influence the way you look at the assignment. Whether by listening to a new song, album, band or by watching a movie you’d typically wouldn’t, giving your mind a taste of something different will inevitably conjure up something new.
Related: Testing Comfort Zones
5. Power through
This might confuse you, but having a “brain vomit” on paper works wonders for writers that are unsure where their work is heading. As our own critics, writer’s block is a result of us wanting to edit as we write but surely one must learn how to walk before they can run, right? Give yourself a time of 5-15 minutes of brainstorming and jot down anything and everything that comes to mind. Even if it’s sporadic, unorganized, and/or completely unrelated, use those off-the-top ideas to create something that is authentic and interesting to your reader.
Writing isn’t always the easiest and it definitely isn’t when your mind is completely fried of ideas. But with some help and guidance, it surely can become just a tad bit more approachable. Good luck and happy writing, collegiettes!