Dealing With the Little Devil Called Writer's Block

By Ashley Rexford on February 19, 2013

As I sit down to write this, I have not the faintest idea of where it’s going. I’ve missed the regular deadline to submit my article, due to midterm paper season in my three literature classes being in full 1500+ word swing. So here I am, much as I was with my most recent essay, scrambling at the last minute to throw something together. But alas, having spent the last week with my eyes either glued to the pages of Jane Austin, Toni Morrison, and Ben Jonson, or bleary, sleep-deprived, and peeled wide as I typed one word after another in a seemingly endless series of pages, I was not able to find the time to be inspired by something new.

The elusive, faceless, all-knowing “they” however, say to write what you know. Having spent the last day trying to come up with some interesting things to say, I found myself dueling with the little devil known as writer’s block. And writer’s block, I know very well.

It sneaks up on even the most experienced and creative of writers. I dare anyone to deny that, and if they do, call them a liar. Where words had just moments before been rushing out, suddenly it’s like you’ve never had a comprehend-able thought in your life. And it’s one of the most frustrating of things, wanting to say more, knowing that you have to, and not being able to grasp at the words to do it. However, in my time as a student, and as a lover of writing, I’ve found a few easy methods to help beat down the little devil Writer’s Block.

1. Walk Away From It – This is perhaps the easiest, as there are a plethora of other things just a click, or a few steps away. Youtube, Pinterest, Netflix, Google, the entire internet, going to the gym, cleaning all those odd places you never think to clean normally, like the back of your TV, cooking your first multiple course meal…and the list could expand indefinitely until you find the correct combination of unnecessary, unproductive actions that lead to the discovery of the right words.

2. Go to Sleep – We college students as a general population  do not spend nearly enough time sleeping as is considered healthy to the rest of the outside world. When you’ve got a case of writer’s block that just won’t quit, sometimes the best thing is to try to get some sleep. Whether it’s a 20 minute cat nap, or a (somewhat) full night’s sleep (because you’re probably on a deadline and need to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to finish things), getting a little shut eye can free up your mind; well-rested brains are happy, functioning brains that are much more likely to come up with awesome words and ideas that will blow your professor’s mind. Plus, you might even dream about what to say, or at least about how much left you still need to do. Which may sound like stress inducing torture to some, but has proven, for me at least, to be a useful tool.

3. Start Writing Complete Nonsense – Can’t figure out what to say next? I bet your brain isn’t actually devoid of all thought, just the useful ones at the moment. So write down the not useful, nonsensical ones. Instead of academics, tell the epic tale of Gunther, the T-Rex whose sole wish is to have longer arms in order to effectively do a push-up, and pick daisies. Get some form of the creative juices flowing, and soon enough you’ll end up circling back to the academic ones. And maybe giving yourself a laugh and some stress relief in the meantime. No need now to actually fight with Writer’s Block, just write like a crazy person, and you should scare it right off.

Take that little devil.

By Ashley Rexford

Uloop Writer
Hey guys! I'm Ashley and I'm a senior at UC Davis. I love studying literature and writing. Back in middle school I would change the "About Me" of my Myspace (ya, remember Myspace everyone?), like, every other week, but now, for the life of me, I really can't think of cool things to say about myself. So some uncool things are: I watch too many TV shows, I may have an addiction to chapstick, and if I could, I would live off of pasta, pesto, and Parmesan. I'm very excited to be here. <-- There, that's a cool thing! :)

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