How To Conquer Writer’s Block

If you’ve stared at a blank document and the words weren’t flowing, you’re not alone. Mark Twain sometimes had that experience in front of a typewriter, and Geoffrey Chaucer with an empty parchment and a quill pen. So then, what do you do if you’re blocked while up against a deadline, trying to get that business presentation done, finish the doctoral dissertation about vegetable symbolism in Hamlet, or complete your Jezebel article about how chewing gum contributes to toxic masculinity?

The creative process

It’s important to understand a writing project’s phases:

  • Planning
  • Writing
  • Editing

Planning is where you develop a general outline. This may be the essentials of a plot, or the points you’re trying to make in a monograph. This phase also includes research. If it’s a story, you might also detail the characters, to sketch out their personality and history enough that they’ll come to life. It doesn’t need to be too extensive, though ideally, you’ll have enough information about them that you can imagine a conversation with them or know how they’d react to any given situation.

Editing is pretty self-explanatory. This involves checking the spelling and grammar; no word processor will catch every mistake. Also, that’s where you sharpen up the style, and fix any problems in logic and consistency. Editing is vital to perfecting the quality, but make it whatever you’re doing when you’re not in writing mode.

Writing is the most important part. This is what produces all those words. When a project starts, you have nothing written down, and this is where many people get blocked. Although planning is the first on the list, most likely you already have at least a basic idea of where you’re going with it. Also, it’s sometimes difficult to get into writing mode, which is another …

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