How To Avoid Writer’s Block While Writing Papers

Pavel Sazonov - 8/30/2020

Takeaway 💭 Writer's block can be overcome by referencing a thesaurus and writing a draft synposis.

Everyone writes. Some of us write at 3:17 AM because college papers are due by 11:59 PM. Is it because we have an insatiable desire to ink academic material that we will never read after the final draft? Short answer, of course not. Internally, I know it’s my own fault, that paper should’ve been started five days ago when it was first assigned. But there’s nothing like a good time crunch to motivate me to bang out a few pages. Is that a justifiable method to a means of production? I wouldn’t be able to answer that, that’s more of a moral question for me. Has this 'hack' worked for me before? Absolutely.

But even a time crunch can’t always stimulate those creative juices. As they say, nothing good lasts forever. Sometimes your mind just can’t be motivated. It just stops. You can’t budge, coax, or even force it to be subordinate to you. The circuit breaker trips, for those of you that fancy analogies. Yes, I’m talking about the infamous writer’s block. Oof. Let’s not talk about it, right? But wait, not talking about the elephant in the room didn’t and won’t solve anything. Writer’s block still happens and will continue to, and dare I say, we need to talk more about it. That brings me to the all-mighty multi-million-dollar question: how do we get past it?

When I start writing, I always have a specific topic or narrative in mind that I’m trying to deliver. What often happens to me, as I start writing a college paper, is that I have a main introductory paragraph or two planned out rather well. The ideas all fit together and I’m able to quickly knock out those first 500-600 words. No problem, good-to-go here.

Then I hit return on my keyboard and suddenly everything goes blank.

That’s my writer’s block. Sure, it might not be on par with your average famous author’s block, or can even be called that, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I get stuck nor does it make me feel better. What would you do? You can’t write, but the deadline isn’t being nice and accommodating to your little mental shutdown. The numbers keep ticking, the night gets shorter by the minute. You’re frustrated. Start googling how to overcome the block. Drink some water, take a walk, calm yourself - I’ve seen them all. But they don’t work, with the exception of taking a walk. Sure, I could take a walk if the weather is nice and I’m not tired. However, what if it’s raining, or humid, and it’s 3 AM? The last place you want to be is outside. The frustration doesn’t diminish.

Now I don’t have a magical silver bullet to solve writer’s block for everyone, but I do want to share with you how I accidentally learned to overcome it. My homemade cure consists of Part A and Part B, just like a two-part epoxy. Part A: always write a short, couple-sentence synopsis of what you want to write about at the very top of your document. That way, whenever you start feeling the deprivation of creativity and motivation creeping up, you can easily scroll up, read your synopsis, and feel in control of the direction you’re heading. Part B is what really helps me, even today. I’ll just stop for a few minutes, completely distract myself with something unrelated to cool off, and then return to the paper when a few minutes have elapsed. But here’s the trick: instead of attempting to force myself to punch out a new sentence or paragraph, I will simply read over the existing text and then open an online thesaurus. Next, I’ll go line by line and find words that I feel could be improved somehow. Words that have the potential to really pack a punch or elevate what I am trying to convey. Here’s the mental magic trick for me. As I am looking up synonyms and definitions for new word choice, I’ll notice an unrelated word and suddenly an idea for how to use that word in a sentence pops in my head. Or, perhaps a definition catches my eye and I notice that I could integrate that word into a sentence. All of a sudden, my mind is engaged again, the juices start flowing, and I am able to write an additional sentence or two. Then I realize that those sentences could be supported by this or that idea and the avalanche effect starts! This eureka moment has happened to me on multiple occasions and every time, the feeling of knowing that I might actually have a polished draft by 11:59, or if I’m really lucky, by 11:55, is enough motivation to keep writing.

Try it yourself sometime. Grab a thesaurus and start looking up synonyms. It’s a great option. Or, you can skip the hassle of typing individual words into the search box to get a list of results and just upload your paper drafts to Tiip so that we can do all the heavy lifting. We scan your entire paper in under three seconds and instantly provide bespoke word choices for you right in the document. We’ll never take too much of your time, we promise. You’ll be back to editing and kicking ass in less than two minutes. Try it today, it’s 100% free, stupidly-easy to use, and most importantly, may help you overcome writer’s block and get better grades.

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