5 Easy Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

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You’ve got a paper—story, essay, article, whatever—due soon, and all you can do is stare at that little blinking cursor. The good news is that writer’s block can easily be defeated with a little inspiration. You just have to find it. Here are a few awesome ways to kick into gear and write.

1. Steal

I’m not talking about plagiarism. I’m talking about stealing inspiration from everyday life around you. The most authentic dialogue hides in plain sight, whispered behind you in a supermarket line or screamed across a crowded airport. All you have to do is be there to record it. Carry a small notebook or use the notes app on your phone to jot down bits and pieces of inspiration as they filter into your subconscious throughout the day.

2. Do Anything and Everything except Write

Advanced writer’s block exists, and it’s impossible to write through. Sometimes you just need to put down the pen for your sanity—and for the safety of everyone around you. You’ll find it easier said than done: The more you try to avoid thinking about your story or article, the more ideas will come squirming into your brain. It happens out of nowhere—you’re shampooing when suddenly you’re struck with the most brilliant idea for the end of your novel. Instead of leaping straight out of the shower, allow the idea to expand before you begin writing.

3. Talk it Out

Never underestimate the power of friendship. Your roommate, classmate or bestie from home can be an invaluable sounding board for ideas. Explain your prompt or problem to a group of friends over lunch, step back and let them go at it. This works really well if you can get them personally invested in the issue (hopefully they’re already vaguely invested as your friends). Find an obscure corner in your favorite coffee shop with your fiction-loving friends and lament your lack of an ending for your novella. You’ll be surprised at the gold your buddies turn up.

4. View Some Final Products

It’s okay, that blank page intimidates us all, and starting is the hardest part. The completed version can seem unreachable, especially when you’re working on a massive project. Visit a creative space like an art museum, and take inspiration from the greats who have been there before. Artists and writers all start with nothing and end with something and you’re going to, too. While you’re searching for willpower, you might just stumble upon inspiration by looking at some finished projects.

5. Put Yourself in a New Environment

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Sometimes your writer’s block is not so much an illness as it is a symptom of being stuck in a rut. How long have you been staring at that blank Word document? When was the last time you went outside? Get coffee at somewhere other than the campus Starbucks. It’s never too late to change, and you might find that a simple shaking up of your everyday routine relieves your writer’s block and produces some immediate inspiration.

A Floridian learning to survive in the tundra that is the Midwest. Sophomore English major at the University of Notre Dame. Goal in life is to be a cross between Jane Goodall and Walt Disney.

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