As someone who loves to write creatively, I’ve encountered my fair share of writer’s block. And as someone who has had to write countless essays, I’ve also encountered the dreaded blank page, staring at me, taunting me with its blank-ness. So, I’m here to try and give you some of my tips for writer’s block, whether creative or academic.
1. Start small
Trying to sit down and bang out a whole essay (or whole story/poem/whatever you are trying to write) is just unrealistic. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your great piece of writing shouldn’t be either. If you feel like you’re stuck, try to start small. Don’t focus on the big picture, which can often be stressful, and rather try to focus on writing one sentence at a time.
2. Pick a time and set some goals
Pick a specific time to sit down, and pick what you want to accomplish in that time period. Setting a timer is also a good idea if you’re prone to procrastination, or aren’t great at focusing. If you set the goal of writing one paragraph in thirty minutes, things become more manageable and less daunting.
3. Don’t worry about what you’re first writing
Jane Smiley, a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner, once said, “Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.” Ever since I heard this quote, I’ve lived my life by it. Who cares if your first draft isn’t your best work? All you need to do is start writing, the editing will come later. Even if you end up deleting half of what you write at the beginning, the important thing is to get some words and ideas on the page.
4. Write from the heart
Even though it’s hard to “write from the heart” when it comes to school work, this is important when it comes to starting the writing process, as well as injecting your voice into your essay. When it comes to creative writing, although “writing from the heart” sounds like a cliché, it is also one of the most important things to keep in mind. If you want to sound unique and different compared to other creative writers out there, it’s important to always put a piece of yourself into your writing, no matter how big or small. It’s also a good place to start if you have no ideas: What is an experience that made you feel something, whether good or bad? Looking to your past for ideas can be a good place to start if you feel like you’re at a loss.
5. Take care of yourself
Although this might seem irrelevant, some basic self-care goes a long way when writing both academically and creatively. It can be hard to arrange your thoughts when you’re running on 2 hours of sleep and 10 cups of coffee. If you’re sitting down to write an essay at 3 am, you’re just asking for some pretty bad writer’s block (in my experience). Take some time to relax, do the things you love, and take care of yourself. If you’re struggling with writing, it can go a long way.
Rebecca Silver is a second-year Arts student with an intended major in History and minor in International Relations. She loves all things Russian, curling up with a good book, and dogs.
- “Tapping a Pencil” by Rennett Stowe via Flickr. License: CC BY 2.0
- “Dos piezas” by Raúl Hernández González via Flickr. License: CC BY 2.0
- “Kitchen Timer” by Lynda Giddens via Flickr. License: CC BY-NC 2.0
- “writing…” by Lidyanne Aquino via Flickr. License: CC BY 2.0
- “#76 – The Harvest Writer” by John O’Nolan via Flickr. License: CC BY 2.0