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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve experienced writer’s block. The cursed lack of inspiration is something we all face. Unfortunately, there aren’t many resources out there that actually help.

If you turn to Google, you’ll probably be met with the wise and very inspirational saying, “Just write,” which would be helpful if it wasn’t super generic. So, here are some more specific tips and tricks for stopping writer’s block.

Identify the problem

The first step in stopping writer’s block is identifying what’s causing it. Since writer’s block is usually accompanied by a feeling of dread, the best way to figure out what’s wrong is to ask yourself a series of questions. What are you dreading about writing? Is it the writing itself? Does the way your characters act just not feel right? Do you feel like your plot isn’t progressing as it should? Does the world you’re writing in feel underdeveloped? Once you answer these questions, you can actually start to address the problem.

If you’re having trouble with writing in general…

Most of the time, I find that my issues with writing come from my perfectionism. I obsess over my writing being perfect and end up losing my creativity and my motivation. Here’s an exercise to deal with that.

Write a totally random scene. Don’t write about something you’ve ever worked on before, just write about whatever you’re feeling at that moment. Don’t go back and edit ANYTHING until you’re completely done with the scene. Try not to read back through your work until you’re finished. This exercise isn’t about writing something good, it’s about writing something you enjoy.

If you’re having trouble with character development…

Oftentimes, you can have all the logistics of a character (like personality, appearance, etc.) worked out, but when you have them interact with someone, it feels out of character. In that case, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself to work out what’s gone wrong.

Does the character feel underdeveloped? Do you feel like you just don’t know them well enough to write about them? If so, try to work on developing their personality more. Make them realistic.

If you know what your character’s personality is like, then why are you writing them differently? Are you trying to push the plot in a certain direction by having them react unrealistically? Is it a problem with the character(s) they’re interacting with?

Once you’ve answered these questions, try writing a scene about your character in a totally random situation. If the result feels authentic, then you’re probably comfortable with your character. If not, then they’re likely either underdeveloped, or you need more practice writing with them.

If you’re having trouble with the plot…

Sometimes outlines don’t cut it. Sometimes I’ll look at an outline for something I want to write and think “Wow, this is incredibly boring.” Here are some questions to fix that.

What are the stakes? If your plot seems stagnant, your stakes probably aren’t high enough. Or, your character doesn’t care enough about them. Sure, the world could be ending, but if no one in your story cares, your readers won’t either. The stakes should get higher as your story progresses and peak at the climax. If your stakes are getting lower as the story goes on, then your readers are probably going to get bored.

If you’re having trouble with world-building…

World-building is one of my favorite things about creative writing. But it can get very overwhelming sometimes, especially if your story takes place somewhere other than Earth. Here are some questions I usually ask myself when I’m creating a new world.

Is the world Earth-like? Are the religions similar to those on Earth? What about the food? The animals? Do the people look different? Are they humanoid? Are they more or less advanced than the human race? Do they have access to technology? How many separate nations do you want to work with? What are the relations between the nations? How does the availability of natural resources influence this? How different are their cultures? What governments do they have?

Note that you don’t need to include all of the answers to these questions in your story. But once you consider these questions, you’ll have the liberty to selectively include what you want your readers to know about your world.

I hope these tips helped you beat your writer’s block! If they didn’t, try not to force yourself to write. As a general rule, if writing is making you unhappy at the moment, take a little break. Your inspiration will come back eventually (…or at 3 in the morning).

Madison Milligan is a senior at TCU and a writing, psychology, and Spanish triple major. She's passionate about fantasy, piano, art, writing, learning languages, and putting an end to psychological stigma.