Whether you’re a creative writer working on their next literature piece, a high school or college student tasked with typing up an essay, or someone who writes for a newsletter, you may experience writer’s block in one way or another. Writer’s block is just how it sounds, but as Merriam-Webster puts it, writer’s block is: “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece of writing.”
As someone who has been writing for fun since the third grade, and as someone who has written a plethora of essays throughout my educational career, I have experienced writer’s block a ton. Some would say it’s almost unavoidable. Even while writing this article, there have been points where I sat back and thought: “Where the heck do I go from here?”
Luckily, I managed to pull myself out of numerous writing slumps in the past, but I often hear complaints of writer’s block from my friends, family, and acquaintances in my day-to-day life. While writer’s block is not simple to combat, there are numerous methods a person can utilize in order to overcome it. If you’re someone who often finds yourself struggling with writer’s block, take into consideration some of the tips I use in order to overcome it! They might be able to help you.
I know, easier said than done, but trust me. If you remove any distractions – whether this be turning off the television, putting away your cellular device, or relocating to an area with less people – then you will more than likely have success in continuing your writing. Writing takes time and thought, and it certainly won’t be easy to complete if there are numerous distractions surrounding you. It’s okay to stray off track here and there, but not all the time!
So if you find yourself glued to your cellphone or television, or honed in on what someone nearby is gossiping about with their friends, it’s time to tell yourself to get rid of these distractions somehow.
Take a Break
If you’ve been working for two hours straight and find yourself in a rut, then maybe it’s time for a break. Burnout is a real thing, and pushing yourself through it isn’t the best option. One: it can cause your work to be of lesser quality, and two: it will only bring unneeded stress to your mind and body.
So, take a break! Eat a snack, take a nap, go out for a walk – heck, if you have actually done two hours of work and your assignment or project isn’t due immediately, put it away for the day. Whenever I get stressed about essays or my creative writing, I step away and try to recollect myself. It’s much better to work when your head is clearer than when it’s clouded with negativity and stress.
Relocate to a New Environment
As mentioned under “Eliminating Distractions,” there may be times where you need to relocate to a quieter area. As a college student, I’ve found that I cannot write in my dorm room no matter what. I live on the first floor near a walkway that numerous students use, and sometimes it’s difficult to focus since they’re quite loud (my earbuds can only go to a certain volume, after all, and I’d like to keep my hearing!). I’ve found that writing in the library during the afternoon, in the university’s bookstore, and the student center sitting areas are my best bet. It might take awhile for you to find the perfect environment, but trust me, once you do, you’ll be able to get plenty of writing done in no time.
Draw an Outline
For years, I had always been against outlines. I thought of them as a waste of time and did not see how they could be useful. I used to believe I worked best with a clean slate, but oh, how wrong I was. You could say now outlines are my best friend. Here’s why. Since my freshman year of high school, I have been working on a novel. By now, you would think I would have most of it done.
Wrong! For the past four years, I did nothing but work on character sheets with no idea on what I wanted to do plot-wise. It wasn’t until I sat down and created an outline that I finally figured out a course of action. Now, I have at least one chapter of my novel finished. Even if you don’t want to, create an outline!
Write out the main idea of your piece, figure out the supporting details, think up a satisfying conclusion – you don’t have to use everything you write in an outline, just pick out what sounds good. It might just save you from experiencing a bad case of writer’s block.
A funny sounding solution, huh? Well, at least hear me out! In the past, I’ve told people time and time again that writing isn’t simple (and it’s not!). Thinking exactly on what you want to say, how you want to say it, and conveying it in a way that can resonate with your intended audience can be difficult.
The actual act of writing, however, is fairly simple. So, just write! It doesn’t have to be immaculate, it doesn’t have to be moving to the point of tears – just say what’s on your mind! Worry about editing later. Once you get the words down, it will be easier to go from there than to go from nothing at all.
Everyone struggles with writer’s block at some point in their life, and that’s okay, but it’s also helpful to learn ways to pull yourself out of that slump. If the tips mentioned above don’t help you, that’s okay! There may be another method out there that does just the trick for you. So to everyone out there who writes – whether it be essays or personal projects – I hope you’re able to find a method which can help you. Happy writing!