How To Overcome Writer's Block

All students have problems with writer’s block at some point in their academic careers. There are innumerable causes, ranging from anxiety to lack of sleep to fear of not writing well. Fortunately there are strategies to help get back on track.

Get your pencil moving

The most difficult part of writing is the start. The worst thing to do is stare at the blank paper and do nothing. It is better to write a mediocre sentence than nothing at all, so turn your critical brain off when starting and get ideas down on the paper. There is always time to edit later.


Start by listing general ideas related to your topic. This short “brain purge” is meant to get all ideas on the page without being too critical or selective. Once you have a collection of content to work with, start marking up the page by circling, highlighting, and crossing out words. The goal of this is to draw draw parallels between ideas and brainstorm more specific examples. These details will be the essence of your writing.

Think out loud

For novice and expert writers alike, one of the most challenging aspects of writing is the process of  transferring thoughts to page. Record yourself speaking your thoughts, then play back the recording to find key themes.

Write don’t type

A cold, ominous computer screen can hinder your creativity.  Switch to pen and paper for a while and physically write out your ideas.

Get inspired

Take a break and read other material to get inspired. Read blogs, magazines, newspapers, or other enjoyable sources, and let your mind run free until you have gathered new ideas.

Sleep on it

Students often get stuck on an assignment because they are too tired to stay focused. If you find yourself in this situation, go to sleep and wake up early to write. Sleeping recharges the mind and elucidates previously confusing subject matter.

Mix it up

Prevent boredom by switching between multiple assignments. For example, if you are working on three assignments, devote one hour per day to each, rather than trying to complete them individually. This will prevent burnout and allow for your creative ideas to spill over to other projects.