Writer’s Block: How To Crush It

Image by Chessie Dowdeswell

Writer’s block: it’s a cruel mistress. It strikes when it wishes and doesn’t care about your oncoming deadlines. It hits especially hard when you’re studying creative writing, literature or anything like that. It’s like you’re standing in front of a wall – too high to climb and too wide to walk around. But remember this: you must not give in. I have come up with a list of tips so you can crash right through the centre of that wall and achieve your true potential.  

Take a Walk
The best thing about attending University of Greenwich is that the park is right next door. It’s the perfect labyrinth to get lost in. Take a moment to think through your ideas. Maybe you’ll have a revelation. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Just remember to keep your distance and stay safe when you’re out of the house.

Work on a Different Project
Struggling with one thing? Turn to another. Set the task that’s giving you grief aside and try something else. Write a different poem, a different article or read through something you’ve already done. There’s no harm in setting something aside for a while if you can’t do it to the best of your ability.

Write The Stupidest Possible Version
Who can honestly say that doing serious work sparks joy? If you get stuck, try writing the most ridiculous version of your scene ever. What if a giant tiger falls from the ceiling and summons the Antichrist who takes the form of Piers Morgan? Don’t be afraid to have fun with what you’re doing and this doesn’t have to be the final version. Maybe an idea will catch light. At least you’ll have had a good laugh. 

Talk To Someone About It
There are loads of students here all in the same boat. Reach out to a classmate and talk it through. Reach out to a family member and ask for their input. Why not ask your tutor? Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s completely rational. We all need help from time to time.

We’re students: tired is our default state of mind. Have a nice long rest and come back to what you’re working on later. Everything is clearer if you step away from it for a while. Plus, who doesn’t love a good sleep?

Pick up an old favourite or something entirely new. Read critically and think about what you liked and disliked. Most importantly, ask yourself why. Why is this effective? Why am I drawn to this? Why would I never do this in a million years? From there, you can translate those answers into your work. Pick out that inspiration and use it. This works for poetry, prose, plays or whatever you’re trying to tackle. 

Watch Some TV
Just like reading, you can find so many ideas in shows. Put Netflix on in the background and see what comes to mind. How about some Gossip Girl or The Mandalorian or Gavin and Stacey? Find something in the genre you’re working on and enjoy it. Or hate it. You’ll learn something either way.

Try a Different Location
Lockdown. Ugh. If you sit at a desk all day you’ll be slamming your face in your keyboard by mid-afternoon. Get up. Try writing in the garden, the kitchen or the living room. Take a seat on your bed, at the dining table or even on the toilet if that suits you. Change your environment. You’ll get a second wind and maybe even overcome your hurdles. It’s a simple trick worth trying.

Keep Going
Writer’s block can take you in one of two directions. For the first, imagine someone writing at their desk. They stop. They don’t know what to do so they get up and walk away, leaving their project unfinished. Now, picture this: instead of walking away, that person sits down a little longer and thinks a little harder. Eventually, they break through the block and write something amazing. That could be you but it won’t be if you get up and walk away. Only give up if you have a good reason. If not, stick with it. You can do it.

Take a Break
There’s no harm in stepping away for a day or two. Take some deep breaths and leave your project alone. You’ll come back with brand new eyes that can defeat any problem they see. We all get burned out sometimes; that’s when writer’s block settles in. If nothing else is working for you, do this. Leave the project alone and relax. It will come to you.

To sum it all up, writer’s block sucks. It sucks even more when your degree revolves around writing and being creative all the time. Sadly, nobody can write 24/7. We’re humans: we get tired, get bored, run out of steam. It’s fine. Breathe. You will do this. Look at that wall in front of you and charge right at it. If you don’t burst out the other side the first time, try again. Keep on trying and when you succeed, you’ll be reborn. I believe in you. You just need to believe in yourself.

By Chessie Dowdeswell

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

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