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Finding a Cure to Writer’s Block

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You’ve been staring at the blank computer screen for 30 minutes. You understand your assignment, but the words just won’t start flowing. Maybe you’re a perfectionist, or maybe inspiration hasn’t struck yet. What’s going on? It looks like you’ve got a textbook case of writer’s block! Don’t worry, there are outbreaks of this particular strain all the time, and luckily, you’re about to learn how to build up your immunity. There are a few symptoms that may lead to a diagnosis of writer’s block:

Stress. Be it from lack of time, pressure from yourself, or the general stresses of life, when you’re overcome with anxiety, it can be hard to sit down and start writing.

Fear. Maybe the assignment seems pretty large and overwhelming— so large, that you’re wondering how you’ll ever complete it.

Low morale. Perhaps you believe that your intellectual ability isn’t up the task. If so, the potential for putting pen to paper and being disappointed in the result can feel pretty daunting.

Regardless of what’s holding you back from writing, a quote from Will Rogers can help put things into perspective:

 “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

A blank page is a blank page no matter how you look at it, and if you continue to stare at it without making a move, Writer’s Block is going to spread through your mind like a disease. So, what do you do? Check out these 4 strategies for treating and beating writer’s block:

  1. Free write. Set a time limit for yourself and don’t leave your computer until time’s up. Just sit and write whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about sounding smart or writing perfectly, you can always edit it later.
  2. Idea map. Write all of your ideas down on paper and then connect the ones that go together. Finding unique connections between your ideas makes for paper-writing gold.
  3. Talk it out. Sometimes it just takes a little conversation to get your brain ready to write. Talk over your ideas with a friend, colleague, or professor, and inspiration is sure to hit you in no time.
  4. Annotate. Mark up your text as you read. Write notes in the margins or use sticky notes to flag important passages and concepts that interest you. That way, you already have a strong base of ideas to pull from when it’s time to start writing.

Looking for more ways to cure your writer’s block? Take a look at 4 more tips from the Berkeley Student Learning Center.