Symptoms and Cures for Writer's Block
Because writers have various ways of writing, a variety of things can
cause a writer to experience anxiety, and sometimes this anxiety leads to
writer's block. Often a solution can be found by speaking with your
instructor (if you are in school), or a writing tutor. There are some
common causes of writer's block, however, and when you are blocked,
consider these causes and try the strategies that sound most
You have attempted to begin a paper without doing any preliminary work
such as brainstorming or outlining...
- Use invention strategies suggested by a tutor or teacher
- Write down all the primary ideas you'd like to express and then fill
in each with the smaller ideas that make up each primary idea. This can
easily be converted into an outline
You have chosen or been assigned a topic which bores you....
- Choose a particular aspect of the topic you are interested in (if
the writing situation will allow it...i.e. if the goal of your writing can
be adjusted and is not given to you specifically, or if the teacher or
project coordinator will allow it)
- Talk to a tutor about how you can personalize a topic to make it more
You don't want to spend time writing or don't understand the
- Resign yourself to the fact that you have to write
- Find out what is expected of you (consult a teacher, textbook,
student, tutor, or project coordinator)
- Look at some of the strategies for writing anxiety listed
You are anxious about writing the paper...
- Focus your energy by rehearsing the task in your head.
- Consciously stop the non-productive comments running through your head
by replacing them with productive ones.
- If you have some "rituals" for writing success (chewing gum, listening
to jazz etc.), use them.
You are so stressed out you can't seem to put a word on the
- Stretch! If you can't stand up, stretch as many muscle groups as
possible while staying seated.
- Try tensing and releasing various muscle groups. Starting from your
toes, tense up for perhaps five to ten seconds and then let go. Relax and
then go on to another muscle group.
- Breathe deeply. Close your eyes; then, fill your chest cavity slowly
by taking four of five short deep breaths. Hold each breath until it
hurts, and then let it out slowly.
- Use a calming word or mental image to focus on while relaxing. If you
choose a word, be careful not to use an imperative. Don't command yourself
to "Calm down!" or "Relax!"
You're self-conscious about your writing, you may have trouble getting
started. So, if you're preoccupied with the idea that you have to write
about a subject and feel you probably won't express yourself well...
Other Pages in This Section :
Writer's Anxiety : Help in overcoming writer's block and a short series of exercises to get you writing.
Other Strategies for Getting Over Writer's Block / Writer's Anxiety : If you have tried the Other Strategies and are still having problems, try some of these general techniques for getting over writer's block.
- Talk over the subject with a friend or tutor.
- assure yourself that the first draft doesn't have to be a work of
genius, it is something to work with.
- Force yourself to write down something, however poorly worded, that
approximates your thought (you can revise this later) and go on with the
- Break the task up into steps. Meet the general purpose first, and then
flesh out the more specific aspects later.
- Try one of the
strategies on the next page of this resource.
English Writing Resources Index
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