University students spend a large amount of time writing and brainstorming ideas for papers and assignments. But what to do when they get stuck, is something that is never taught. As a skill that is essential for writing but hardly ever thought about, Writer’s Block 110 will provide some guidance on how to move forward.

Get moving

According to Penguin Random House, doing something physical is one of the best things you can do to loosen your brain and give yourself a break from the anxiety caused from the inability to write. This could involve going for a walk, hiking or dancing. Get away from the writing and move. 

Remove the removable

A Writer’s Digest article encourages writers to remove anything from their environment that may cause distraction or anxiety. This could mean making sure your space is clean, turning off your phone or disconnecting from the wifi if possible. By doing this it forces you to focus on the task at hand instead of finding a way to procrastinate. 

Complete the 30-minute challenge 

This challenge helps you work out what your distractions are. It involves setting a timer for 30 minutes and writing about your day until the timer is up. Once the time is up, write down what distracted you during that time and search for ways to remove these distractions. For example, if the music you were listening to was distracting you then find a different genre of music or eliminate the music completely. 

Free the writing

According to Shonda Rhimes, freewriting is something that many authors use when they are unsure about what to write next. It involves writing about whatever comes to mind for a period of time and often results in finding the root cause of the person’s writer’s block. In a university assignment context, this could involve brainstorming the flow of your assignment and writing whatever comes to mind for the topic being covered.  

Get some help from a friend

According to an article on writer’s block from Penguin Random House, describing to a friend what you are writing about or what you are going to write about can help to create a clearer vision for your writing. This can involve talking about the structure of your assignment or the content you intend on covering in it. This method forces you to be more decisive about the direction you are going to take. 

Write some introductory questions

When asked how to deal with writer’s block, Dr Nedine Moonsamy from UP’s English Department and author of The Unfamous Five, suggested writing some introductory questions. This involves asking what, why and how. What do you want to argue or say in response to the topic or research area you are writing about? Why is your argument significant and justified? Finally, how do you plan on illustrating this point of view in your paper or assignment? This approach aids in the establishment of a clear direction with regard to your writing and how you want to move forward with the topic. This eliminates the feeling that you are merely describing other people’s ideas and helps you work through that sense of stagnation you experience from writer’s block. 

Pace yourself

If you know you are someone that suffers from writer’s block on a regular basis, make sure you allow yourself enough time to deal with it and still get your work done on time. This may mean starting a week earlier than you would usually have or allocating time to step away from your writing and do something else. This can, according to Shonda Rhimes, involve taking a few days, weeks or months away from your writing. It can help reduce your anxiety and allows you to return to your writing with a fresh perspective. 

Remember that writer’s block is a normal experience, because writing is hard, especially when you’re writing about the same topic for extended periods of time. Take a break, pace yourself, brainstorm and remove any distractions so that your writing experience can be free of writer’s block. 

Visual: Madeeha Hazarvi

Features journalist | view posts

Hi I'm Lauren, I'm passionate about writing and run a personal blog called Life on my Wall (@lifeonmywall). I enjoy writing about student issues and minority group experiences.