Writer’s block

Are you stuck staring at your screen wondering what the hell to write for your essay, dissertation or piece of coursework?

Here are some practical tips to get rid of that dreaded writer’s block and get productive again.

  • Anxiety is one of the most common causes of writer’s block.  Even if you don’t readily recognise that you’re anxious, try getting out for a bit – take a walk to the park or shops, play some music, take a hot bath and try to unwind.
  • Try brainstorming everything you know about the topic onto some paper.  Link the ideas together.  Try to make smaller ideas from each large idea. Highlight the ones that are most relevant.
  • Develop your own rituals for writing success.  It is completely up to you which will work.  All you are doing is creating a pattern that tells your brain you’re about to go into genius writing mode (just like your bedtime routine which tells your brain it’s time to wind down).  So whether it’s chewing gum, listening to a certain track, stretching, breathing exercises, drinking a certain drink – whatever you decide, create your own routine.
  • Discuss the subject with a friend who knows little about it.  Explain the assignment to them.  Tell them what you want to argue and where you think it will go.  You’ll find yourself writing – out loud!
  • Take a recorder – your phone will likely have one – and start talking about the assignment and any aspects of it that stand out to you.  Again, explaining it to an imaginary person will help you start to generate.
  • Start in the middle.  Pick part of the assignment you’re more confident about and write that part.  Choose other parts.  In any case, it’s better to write your introduction last!
  • Write down a dummies guide to this assignment – a really basic simplified outline of the answer. For example, if the question was a law question that asked about various parties’ liability after a series of events, start with e.g. “John is liable for shooting Jim, Martina is liable for crashing into Elyssa…” and so on.  Then start to flesh out these simple sentences with smaller sentences and support for your answers.  You’ll end up with an answer plan which you then just need to fill out.