I used to suffer from writers block quite frequently. I would sit at my desk, looking at a blank document on my computer screen for hours, just waiting for the perfect sentence to form in my mind. Anxiety built with ever character that I typed. It needed to be perfect, a first draft with final draft material and substance. I feared putting anything down that wasn’t perfect so much so that it hindered my ability to finish any assignment. I would put it off essay and research papers until the last minute just to avoid blankly staring at a blank screen.
It wasn’t until I got to college that I conquered that fear. Every once in a while, I still get a little anxious when I have a writing assignment due. But now, instead of my anxiety stopping me from writing, it makes me write even more! I hated staring at an empty Word document so much that I began to force myself to fill it with every thought that popped into my head. Without caring about rhyme or reason, sentence order or structure, coherence and clarity, I wrote down what I wanted to say without being afraid of how I said it. Because I realized, it doesn’t have to be perfect on the first draft. That’s why we have first drafts, and second drafts, and especially, delete buttons!
No great work of writing was ever completed to perfection on the first get go (don’t quote me on that). It takes time to craft a fine work of art, and the same goes for writing — time, revisions, and editing are all integral parts of the writing process. All I needed to do was remember that and I was able to write again. When I removed the pressure of perfection off of my writing assignment, it broke down the dam that was holding back all the words in my head. Now, I can hash out an eight-page paper in one sitting. But just because I may have reached the page minimum, that doesn’t mean its even close to ready to hand in.
Of course, free writing doesn’t help everyone conquer writers block. But it sure helps me figure out what I want to say. Putting it all down on paper helps me begin to articulate what sort of message I want to relay, even if it isn’t entirely comprehensible at first.
There’s no sure-fire way of overcoming writer’s block, but here’s a few suggestions to help you out!
- Take a step back and go for a walk
- Read a book
- Listen to music (I like classic rock, something I can sing along to)
- Have a snack, drink some coffee
- Move to a different location, change up your scenery
- Make a brainstorming web
- Write down on paper instead of typing on a screen
- Don’t try to start at the beginning of your paper, mix it up and start from the end or the middle
- Talk about the assignment, to yourself or to others
- Gather information on the topic, you could be inspired by something you find
- Set restrictions on yourself. For example, force yourself to write for two-minutes straight or write until you’ve filled one page