How Reading Helped Cure My Writer's Block

It’s no secret that writing can be hard at times. It’s a well-known fact that writing is extremely difficult if it involves analyzing a 500-page book that you have only read the chapter summaries of.

A large majority of people can admit that they have experienced writer’s block at least once or twice in their lives. Whether it was due to a lack of inspiration or motivation (or a combination of both), it’s hard to deny that not knowing what to write sucks, especially if you’re on a tight deadline. As an English major, I’m no stranger to experiencing writer’s block when it comes to having to write both academic and creative pieces. For the most part, I’ve been able to push through it as I crank out somewhat decent papers.

However, this semester’s writer’s block was especially difficult.

With an entire semester of remote classes, I, like many other students, struggled to find the motivation of complete assignments on time. In addition to Covid-19 related anxiety, stress related to the environment, politics, economy, and social justice issues made it difficult for me to focus on my academics and stay on top of my assignments. Not to mention, the combination of back to back assignments with very few breaks created the perfect recipe for burn out. Nonetheless, the show must go on. Or in this case, the papers must be written.

Apple Magic Keyboard, papers, and pen on white surface Jealous Weekends/Unsplash

That is exactly how I found myself blankly staring at the blinking cursor for about thirty minutes before deciding that watching two hours’ worth of funny cat videos would get my creative juices flowing. Unfortunately, as adorable as kittens in a teacup are, my writer’s block stubbornly clung to me as the deadline for the paper rapidly approached.

After writing and rewriting a few sentences before deciding to delete everything, I decided it was time to take a break from the staring contest I was having with the blank document. I contemplated going for a walk, or cleaning my room, or just about anything else that could help me get out of my writing funk. It wasn’t until I remembered that my freshman year college professor had recommended reading someone else’s work could be helpful when experiencing writer’s block.

While I consider myself a book lover, I tend to neglect reading during the semester when assignments and job/internship applications often take up most, if not all, of my time. However, I knew it couldn’t hurt to try reading something. After picking one of my favorite books, I flipped to a random chapter and hoped that reading would be able to cure my writer’s block. It didn’t take long for me to become completely enraptured in the world building and lyrical sentences that the author was able to create. As I continued to read, I slowly began to feel the inspiration to write return, and it wasn’t long until I was able to complete a draft of my essay.

reading bana Photo by Fabiola Peñalba from Unsplash While I think that writer’s block is something that I will continue to struggle with in my life, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I’m grateful for this experience. If I hadn’t been struggling with my essay, I wouldn’t have remembered some advice I had been given years ago. I would have never reignited my love for reading again and found the inspiration and motivation to write my essay.

As awful as experiencing writer’s block close to a deadline was, there were a lot of good lessons that came from it as well. For one, I found myself more aware and grateful whenever I am able to easily find the inspiration to write either an academic or creative piece. In addition, I’ve learned that regardless of how busy I may feel, it’s important to find time for the things that I enjoy. While there’s a lot going on in the world, I’ve come to realize that there’s always going to be a lot happening. That’s what makes life so special, and even if we find ourselves overwhelmed from time to time, that doesn’t mean we can’t find solace in the simple things that we enjoy.