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3 Ways to Combat Writer's Block

Writer's block can be frustrating, but with these three techniques, you'll be conquering it in no time.

By
Varsity Tutors, as read by Mignon Fogarty,
Writer's Block

A blank paper can be one of the most intimidating things a student faces—the seemingly endless possibilities, the pressure to create something meaningful, and the inevitable time crunch that you face. But academic writing doesn’t have to be a struggle. Writing, like any other activity, requires strategy and practice. There are many strategies to tackle writer’s block, such as utilizing brainstorming techniques and creating a designated writing time. Keep reading to learn more about these strategies.

1. Complete a free-writing exercise

Rarely will your first draft be perfect. Instead of placing pressure on yourself to succeed on your first draft, free-write any and all things that come to mind that are related to your topic. Free-writing allows you to lay out all of your ideas and thoughts on paper. This can be done in whatever format is most comfortable for you, such as a list of brainstormed ideas or a visual map of your thoughts. Seeing your ideas visually can help you expand on them in your draft. Even if you don’t end up using most of the free-writing content, this exercise can give you good practice and help you explore your topic in a relaxed environment.

Just like athletes, becoming a better writer requires practice.

2. Establish a set writing time

Just like athletes, becoming a better writer requires practice. One strategy to beat your writer’s block and to improve your skills is to set aside specific time for writing. You can be as strict or flexible with this chunk of time as you choose, such as setting a timer for 10, 20, or 30 minutes at a time. The important thing is to have structured time to brainstorm and compose. Often, students focus better during short segments of time, as this decreases the risk of procrastination. You can conduct your writing time in any location that’s most comfortable, such as your home, a local coffee shop, or the library. Find an environment where you’ll be likely to focus and produce content. Also consider encouraging your friends to join this endeavor so you can hold each other accountable for this writing time.

3. Engage with additional texts, mediums, and resources

When dealing with writer’s block, it can be helpful to pull inspiration from the world around you. Examine your topic and how it relates to your everyday life. In addition, reading any and all materials you can find can help combat writer’s block—including books, magazines, newspapers, and online articles. Note how the authors utilize words and imagery to deliver their message, and examine how you can incorporate such strategies into your own writing. 

Additionally, engage with other mediums and resources related to your topic. These can include podcasts, film clips, and art. Note the tone used, how it correlates with your focus, and ways you can emulate it in your composition. 

Writer’s block can be frustrating, exhausting, and discouraging. Re-evaluate your composition strategies and develop new ones that may foster success. Pull inspiration from everyday life, as well as other mediums. While there’s no one way to become a stronger writer, the above strategies can help you tackle (and conquer) writer’s block.

Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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