Spring break gave your brain a rest, now it’s time to get back into the swing of doing schoolwork. Writer’s block is bound to hit and hit hard. You stare at your blank computer screen and your brain turns to mush. You can’t write anything intelligible.
Have no fear; here are some writing tips, some are from famous writers, to help you with your college term paper or for creative writing ideas.
Best practices to combat writer’s block
1. Discover what works best for you. It’s okay to write whenever you write best. Maybe you’re a morning person getting up at 6 a.m. to write a while before your first class. Maybe you’re a night owl who gets inspiration at 10 p.m. Or you like to get work done right after supper so you can have your evening free. Be mindful of when you’re most productive because forcing yourself to work when you’re not up to it will result in wasted time and fruitless progress.
2. Write something down. Anything at all. It doesn’t have to be perfect or make sense. Just writing something starts the process and gets your brain in gear. You’ll develop the beginning of what you want to say. Then later you can take the time to reword it and polish into a final draft.
“Sit down for ten minutes and write down everything you can think of about your topic. The object is to write without stopping for the whole ten minutes…Freewriting is good for uncovering ideas—it’s a good way to nudge ‘inspiration.’ But the main purpose of freewriting is to get you moving! Most of what you write in those ten minutes will go in the recycling bin, but you’ll be warmed up and your serious writing should go more smoothly,” recommends University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in “Writing Tips: Strategies for Overcoming Writer’s Block.”
3. Start in the middle. You know you’ll be doing a few drafts of your paper, so don’t fixate on writing the perfect introduction when you just begin. It’s okay to start in the middle of your paper by writing down some major points you want to make. Develop those first. Then you’ll have time later to write your other sections, introduction and conclusion.
4. Give yourself deadlines. Saying you have to write 15 pages in three weeks will give you a heart attack. Rather, say “I’ll finish this one page by tonight.” Then tomorrow say “I’ll finish one more page by Thursday.” If you give yourself little deadlines, it stretches out a difficult task into smaller, bite-size and more manageable sessions.
5. Look out a window. Seriously, stand up, go for a walk, look out at the campus, read a text or two (only two!), call a friend for a chat. The point is to change your surroundings for a few minutes, focus on something else, change your viewpoint. “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write,” said playwright, novelist and screenwriter Paul Rudnick in “Famous Writers Share How They Handle Writer’s Block,” by Jeryl Brunner posted January 29, 2015, in Huffington Post.
6. Exercise. Physical activity helps the brain function. “Taking up yoga a few years ago has also helped me deal with my writer’s block. Although, in that case, it’s more that the practice of stretching and then being still for long periods of time has helped me figure out how to solve problems in pieces I am already in the midst of writing,” said Anna Holmes, founder of Jezebel.com, columnist for New York Times Sunday Book Review, editor for Fusion, posted in “Got writer’s block? 14 writers share how they fight the blank screen,” by Butch Ward July 22, 2014, online at Poynter.
7. Find a new place to write. If you’re floundering at the desk in your dorm room, move to another place: the library, outside on a bench, an empty class room, a café or a picnic table. The change in your physical surroundings will stimulate your creative juices.
What are some ways you’ve overcome writer’s block?