We bid adieu to the Lent Term here at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Some of us are gearing up for the Easter break and some of us are just enjoying the nice spring weather. Eventually, in May, all of us will return to papers, exams and dissertations. What awaits us there is writing, a lot of it.
Whether you are good at writing or not, most of us, including professional authors and writers, suffer from writer’s block from time to time. Writer’s block is a particular condition where writers experience an inability to write or produce newer work. It can be especially frustrating if students have to submit papers and write exams in a specific timeline. Here are five tips to deal with writer’s block.
Start slowly, but start
Often, we want to produce high-quality work from the very beginning. We have all been there where we have written a sentence, crossed it at least ten times, and tried to rewrite it only to realise that we cannot do it. Staring blankly at the screen and hoping thoughts will write themselves, wishing some form of magic to happen to fill the document with words, and then expressing doubts over our cognitive abilities. We have all been there. In these cases, just starting writing can be helpful. It doesn’t have to be full of prose but rather getting your thoughts out there. The only way to break the block is to start. You only fail when you stop writing.
Establishing a routine always helps to structure days and thoughts. Starting early and writing a small part every day helps achieve two things: consistency helps break the cycle of lethargy and the routine wires the brain to keep at it for a specific time. Starting any assignment early also helps to fully develop the content well. Thus, having a writing routine helps to focus.
In the era of virtual technology, pencilling in dates for co-writing can be an effective way to get rid of writer’s block. It gives the sense of being in a peer-support group where all your friends are also co-writing and are connected through Zoom or WhatsApp. This is especially helpful for quarantine where one is expected to be confined in a room. I have set up Zoom writing dates with many of my friends back home when I was in quarantine and had to write a summative assessment. Seeing your peers working can also recreate a library-like environment which boosts productivity.
Read, read and read some more
In order to be a writer, few things are as motivating as reading. Most of the time, reading other materials gives perspective and direction while writing. Reading also enhances the ability to form structure and hone the prose. Sometimes, reading instigates the first sentence or thought during writer’s block. Thus, read and read, and read some more.
Take a break
When we are too consumed by writing and everything related to it, it’s easier for our brain to get clogged up and to function properly. The frustration with writer’s block may eat up all our productive places. During those times, taking a break helps to regain balance. Exercising, listening to music, taking a walk, gardening, cooking — doing anything other than writing can bring a refreshing perspective and can prove to be helpful to get rid of the block.
Even after all of these, if you are still struggling, LSE LIFE is there to provide you with guided suggestions. Book an appointment with one of the advisors and help will be provided.
Here’s hoping for a productive exam season for everyone!