Nothing is more frustrating than staring at a blank screen or an empty piece of paper and not being able to write anything. Whether it’s 3 a.m. and you can’t figure out how to start your research paper or it’s 3 p.m. and you have a story idea that you just can’t put into words, writer’s block can be extremely frustrating.
Though writer’s block can’t be fully cured, there are some tips that can help you find inspiration and get into the writing mood when you can’t seem to do so otherwise. I may not be an expert on the subject, since I too also experience writer’s block, however, through the combination of my experience and suggestions found on the internet, these tips can help push you in the “write” direction.
- Read over what you already have
Sometimes the block is coming from not knowing where to go from the sentence you just wrote. There may be times when re-reading your work and putting the next sentence you want to write in context with what you’ve already written will help spark some inspiration. However, if you haven’t written anything yet, there will be tips farther down on this list that can help you in that situation, as well.
- Read other material
The best way to get inspiration for writing is to read other people’s work. The writers of that work were all in your position at some point, so reading their work may give you ideas. Reading is also a good way to improve your writing overall, because while you are reading you are subconsciously taking note as to what’s good writing. I usually read one of my favorite books like The Hunger Games trilogy, or just a short thing online that I can read quickly to get in the mood. Sometimes just reading an excerpt from your favorite book will do the trick.
- Get something to eat
If you’re writing on an empty stomach, that might be part of the problem. It’s hard to concentrate on any task at hand when the thought of being hungry is distracting you. Take a break and get a snack or have a whole meal if you haven’t yet. Maybe you’ll sit down later and realize that being hungry was part of the problem.
- Take a shower
I tend to get a lot of my good ideas in the shower. There’s something relaxing and inspirational about standing under the water that sparks a lot of good ideas. If you haven’t already taken a shower, take a break and see if maybe the warm water will help give you ideas.
- Do research
Especially if it’s a paper for school, sometimes doing research will do the trick. If you’re able to put yourself in the mind set of whatever you’re trying to write about, it might make writing a little easier for you. Even if it’s a fiction piece, there is always research you could do to help your writing along. Maybe the research could be as simple as looking up tips to help you write in a certain genre if you’re not familiar with it.
- Change the scenery
Sometimes where you’re working is the problem. Maybe the place is too quiet, too loud or too distracting. If you tend to do work in the same spot, that may be the problem. Gain a new perspective by switching up where you work. I almost always do my work in my floor’s common room, but sometimes I’ll switch to a coffee shop or a quiet study room if I find I can’t focus.
- Abandon the idea of perfection
Especially if it’s a first draft or just something you’re writing for yourself, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I have a friend who edits as she goes and can spend hours on the same sentence because she can’t find the right word. This is okay sometimes, but it can make the process long and excruciating, especially if you’re on a deadline. Normally, I’m the type of writer who writes as much as I can and then reads it later. However, I even have moments where I find myself spending too much time trying to think of a title or a funny pun. This tip can be used in these situations too.
- Get some rest
There are some situations where sometimes the only thing you need is sleep. If it’s late at night, go to bed. If you’re just tired, take a nap for 30 minutes. According to WebMD, “Daytime naps can be one way to treat sleep deprivation, says Sara C. Mednick, PhD, sleep expert and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. “You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping,” she says. “You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost.” Not only will going to sleep help you get rested, but maybe you’ll end up getting inspiration from a dream you have. I know from experience that sometimes my best ideas come to me right before I’m about to go to sleep.
- Get some feedback
Consult a family member, friend or someone else you trust. Tell them your idea and ask if they have any ideas. Getting another person’s perspective can be really helpful. If it’s a school related project, sometimes reading over the prompt or asking your professor to explain the assignment will help you understand better. Sometimes professors may not realize that you do not understand an assignment, and will usually be more than willing to explain it to you in different words. It’s also good to collaborate with people because working with others can help bring different ideas and angles to whatever project you’re working on.
- Abandon the project for a while
If you’re not on a tight deadline, stepping away from the project completely may be what you need. Sometimes, the best ideas come when you’re least expecting them. Personally, I always seem to get ideas in the shower when I’m not even trying to get ideas or when I’m out with friends and I’m not even thinking about the assignment.
No matter what you’re working on, writer’s block can be extremely frustrating. Everyone works differently; so there’s no guarantee that these tips will work for you, but they may be just what you need to help spark your inspiration the next time you sit down to write. Maybe using a combination of these tips or even adding your own to the list can help you the next time you have writer’s block.
Do you have any tips for writer’s block? Feel free to share them in the comments below!