8 PM, Tuesday night - cold wind whips at your hair as you trek across campus to the library, and your shoulders sag under the weight of various textbooks, multicolored folders, miscellaneous chargers, and whatever-the-hell-else was on your desk that you brought "just in case." All you can think about is how much work you have to do and how much you're dreading all of it, especially that one research paper you still have to develop some sort of thesis for.
10 PM, that same Tuesday night - you're sitting at a giant table in Raynor library, a sea of ink-covered notebook papers and yellow Post-Its randomly strewn about, as if someone spilled out all the contents of your backpack right before you. Your head is in your hands, pulling your hair out as you ask yourself the same few questions over and over again - what should I write about? What's my main idea? What am I trying to prove?
More importantly, why can't I write ANYTHING?
We've all been there - sitting in front of a laptop screen for what seems like hours on end, waiting for some brilliant idea to pop into our heads that will magically get us writing; a kind of miracle that will help us produce a five-page research paper or innovative interpretation of The Tempest in less than two hours. "Writer's block" affects even the greatest of authors and can last for days, weeks, even months on end. It is a huge detriment on productivity and makes us feel stupid and less confident in our abilities as writers, communicators, and thinkers.
Yet, writer's block is definitely not incurable. You can either wait it out, as at some point a "great idea" will finally hit you (and often at the most unexpected of times - I once left a class a few minutes early because I was so happy to have finally come up with an idea for a paper!), or you can actively work against it, using one of the methods detailed below.
About anything. Seriously, anything. Talk about what you had for lunch, how that dog you saw on the way to class made you miss home more a little bit more than usual, or your deepest darkest secrets; it doesn't matter, just WRITE. The act of writing itself can help you "get into the zone"/right mindset to write in, making it easier to return to whatever it is you are stuck on in an inventive, fresh way.
2) Move around.
Change up your scenery. Leave the library and head to Starbucks or the grassy area outside your dorm, or even a chair outside one of your classrooms. Inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere, so be sure to go here, there, and everywhere.
3) Turn up the music.
Stop listening to those "chill beats for relaxation/study" playlists on YouTube, and turn on something that excites you - that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning, or gets you hyped up to go for a run. Keep switching things up, too; explore different genres and take a deep dive into all Spotify's playlists.
4) Talk it out.
It might sound silly, but trust me, this helps perhaps the most of all. Some of the best papers I have ever written have come from conversations I have with myself in the car, in the shower, etc.
5) Close your laptop.
Trade screens for sheets, or vice versa. Sometimes, it is the media we're using to write that's limiting us; Find the right tools, and anything is possible.
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