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Tips and Tricks for Overcoming Writer's Block

As the year winds down and the days get shorter, you might be feeling tired and drained. You might be thinking to yourself, I should be writing right now, but I just can’t make myself do it. If you’re in a creative block and need some help, read on for some tips and tricks to work those writing muscles!

  • Write in a new place: a change of scenery is great for stimulating the senses. New sights, smells, and even tastes could jumpstart a story or poem. It could be something small like a different spot in your home, or you could take a writing road trip to a different state. It’s up to you!

  • Write at a weird time: set your alarm for 3AM, open your laptop (don’t let the screen burn your eyes) and write for ten minutes. It might be incoherent when you go to read it in the morning, but it might also be just the thing you needed to get started.

  • Writing sprints: If you want to hit those word count goals, writing sprints are the exercise for you! (No physical movement besides your fingers typing or pen moving required.) Set an alarm for 10, 20, etc. minute increments, and don’t stop writing until it goes off. This might seem like “quantity over quality,” but you’ll surprise yourself with the amount of good writing you’ll produce in a short amount of time. Don’t think, just write!

  • Go on a walk: Sometimes clearing your head is the best way to get ideas flowing. I find that when I allow myself to be quiet and unstimulated, my thoughts become clearer, and my best ideas come out.

  • People watching: Need character ideas? Look no further than the people around you! Get comfy in a public space where lots of people are around, like a park or coffee shop. Pick someone to observe and write down a few identifying details, like their hair or clothes. Then, imagine what kind of life they live. Who are they friends with? What did they get their mom for her birthday? The possibilities are endless.

  • Read a new genre: Reading stories while writing them has both its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, they’ll give you inspiration and get you excited to write, but on the other, you might compare yourself too harshly to other writers or worry that your ideas are unoriginal. If you love to read but don’t want to be stuck, try reading stories in a genre that you never write in. A contemporary romance novel might have the key to take your sci-fi odyssey to the next level.

  • Writing prompts: If you need a little extra help finding ideas, writing prompts are always readily available! Here’s one that I’ve done in classes a few times: Picture a key. Describe it in great detail. Is it old, new? Rusty, futuristic chrome? Now picture the door that the key opens and describe it as well. Then, picture what is behind the door. Is the room the size of a closet or a warehouse? Is there loud music playing? Is there anyone else there? Have your character unlock the door and begin a scene. If you need more genre-specific inspiration, check out this website: 500 Writing Prompts to Help Beat Writer's Block


About the author: Lindsey is currently working towards her BA in English and Creative Writing at Brandeis University. She loves writing short stories and has more recently taken an interest in writing poetry. She is also an Editor-in-Chief for her school literary magazine, Laurel Moon. You can usually find her reading, crocheting, watching Marvel movies, or bothering her cat, Sister. She hopes to be a writer and an editor in the future to continue to help others improve their work.


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