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Monday, May 2, 2016 Overcoming Writer's Block

Writing can be tough. For some people, communicating ideas on paper seems to be more difficult than communicating through speech. This problem is enhanced by a serious case of writer’s block. But what causes writer’s block, and how can you get over it?

1. You don’t know what to write.

Choosing what to write about can be a daunting process, both when you struggle to come up with a topic and when you think of too many. Either way, brainstorming can help.

Brainstorming entails putting every single idea you have down on paper, paying no heed to quality. First, you’ll realize it’s not that hard to come up with a topic. Your brainstorming paper will fill up rather quickly. Second, you’ll realize that writing all your ideas down can really help unburden your mind, which was previously crammed with ideas. After you’re done, you can scratch off the clunkers and keep your favorites. The final step is simply picking a topic!

If you’ve already chosen your topic and still can’t decide what to write about, the same concept applies. This time, instead of brainstorming for different topics, brainstorm for topic sentences. It’s fun and it works!

If you’re still having trouble, try brainstorming out loud to a couple of friends. This is especially useful if you’re an external processor, and maybe the creative energies from your friends are just what you need to get inspired. Better yet, come visit your friendly neighborhood writing coaches at the UWC! We’re always happy to be your sounding board.

2. Stress, fear, and perfectionism.

When you’re stressed out about an assignment because you’re afraid you won’t do well or because you want your writing to be perfect, you won’t concentrate as well as you should.

In the end, perfectionism is counterproductive and fear is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Accept that nothing you write will ever be perfect and realize that stressing about it being so will never accomplish anything. Finally, the great part about writing is that you decide when you’re happy with the finished product. If you write something and don’t quite like it, fix it. Make it better. Revise. But understand that you can never improve what you haven’t even written yet.

3. Being distracted.

Distractions can come in three main types: physical, physiological, and psychological.

  • Physical distractions are usually a part of a person’s environment, such as the atrocious country music blaring across the hall or the smell of your roommate’s dirty laundry.
  • Physiological distractions are distractions within your own body like being hungry or sleepy.
  • Psychological distractions are the distractions of your mind, like the stress, fear, and perfectionism mentioned earlier. Other important psychological distractions for many include Internet browsing, checking social media accounts, and watching cat videos on YouTube.

Overcoming distractions can be as easy as removing yourself from them if possible. Go to the library to get away from the music and smelly laundry. You may believe going without food or sleep will help you focus on writing, but it would be better if you ate or took a quick nap to be more focused when you returned to the paper. Train yourself to not use technology while writing, as all that back-and-forth is harmful to your productivity.

Next time you’re stumped with writer’s block, just remember these tips. Good luck writing!

Posted at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)
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