3 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Block

Image by Barlas Sahinoglu, Flickr

Image by Barlas Sahinoglu, Flickr

Here you are, sitting at your desk with time to finally start (and finish) your writing assignment. A fresh cup of your favourite tea or coffee is steaming next to your desktop, standing as a source of refuel for when your energy fades and dips down to dangerously low levels later on. A notebook filled with your outline and ideas (peppered throughout with the occasional artsy doodle) lays open to your left. A fresh, blank page is stretched across the screen, the blinking cursor at the top flashing steadily at a hypnotizing tempo.

And you swear it’s mocking you because you’ve unfortunately contracted the most horrific and prevalent syndrome known to all mankind – the dreaded writer’s block.

Common symptoms include (but are not limited to): temporary paralysis of the fingers whenever in contact with keyboards, blank expressions of glazed eyes staring into digital screens, and/or strong urges to rip out hair and throw said computer device out the window.

But fear not, this enemy can be vanquished! Whether it’s an academic project or personal hobby piece, these following tricks should help in pushing through that seemingly indestructible wall that stands between you and your finished product.

1) Divide and conquer. Approximately an hour a day split over the course of a week, or even an hour or two a week (depending on how big the project is and how in-advance you’ve planned it out) is much more doable than trying to power through from start to finish in the course of one day. By portioning the work load into smaller sections and spreading it out, it alleviates the high-pressure of rushing to write quickly and effectively (which in turn can likely incentivize an onset of writer’s block instead).

2) Time-out. Sometimes the best way to regain and recharge your writing-mojo is to take a break and walk away for a bit. No matter how hard you stare, the document glaring back at you will not magically write itself. Get up, do a little stretch or wiggle to loosen up the tenseness and frustration that has seeped into your bones, and go do something else for a couple of minutes. The more unrelated to writing, the better. But make sure to set a time limit (or else you may find yourself lost in a vortex of continuous YouTube videos that started with celebrity talk show interviews and have now somehow ended up in “Beat-boxing Goats: Greatest Hits 2015”). Step away – but make sure to come back.

3) Your notebook is your secret weapon. That notebook you have sitting beside you? Use it, it will help. If you’re an organized individual, then you’ve already created an outline for your project. If not, then take a few minutes to quickly pin down some ideas and important concepts that you can use as reference and checkpoints. You can do this electronically on your phone or computer, but by hand with a good old fashioned pen and paper could produce even better results as it arguably provides a more organic and fundamental medium as a creative outlet. Don’t underestimate the power of notes, it serves as the proverbial compass that could likely guide you back to the shore of productivity from your lost position amidst what seems to be the endless sea of writer’s block.

It can (and often does) happen at the most inconvenient of times. But despite how fatal and insurmountable it may initially seem, you can overcome writer’s block as long as you keep focused and maintain that drive in completing your project. Though it may be a bit of a struggle in first conquering this familiar foe, keep in mind that you’ll likely come out on the other end with an unstoppable energy and momentum that will easily carry you throughout the rest of your writing process. After that, feel free to return to your beat-boxing goat videos (no judgement).