You open your laptop to write your English assignment. Your teacher assigned it today and you decided to get an early start so you’re not cramming at the last minute. The page is blank. You know it and you’d swear the assignment knows it too. You can’t help but start to feel bad for yourself because you have no idea how to start the assignment. The anxiety starts to set in and you get overwhelmed. You close your laptop in defeat and decide to write it later in the week. This scenario I just described is called “procrastination” or in writers’ terms “writer’s block.” A lot of writers, as well as students, experience this at one point or another in their careers. Writer’s block usually happens during high-pressure situations like an essay a student isn’t prepared for or a work deadline coming up fast. People believe that writer’s block just happens for no reason. While writer’s block is a normal part of the writing process, it is easily preventable. There are precautions that writers can take. The precautions that can be taken are not referring to the rubric, sleeping on it, or doing an activity that calms your nerves.
The term “writer’s block” has always had a negative connotation attached to it. People think that writer’s block is the worst thing in the writing world. When in reality, writer’s block should happen every time a student writes something. And if it doesn’t, it means what they’re writing isn’t challenging enough. Writer’s block is normal, but if necessary, there are precautions that can be taken to lessen how frequent writer’s block occurs. Not referring to the rubric is the first precaution. This is what helps me when I complete writing assignments for all six of my writing classes. If the writing assignment comes with an outline and rubric, I will skim it to get the overall gist, then write and write and write. This can be extremely dangerous depending on how well your skimming skills are. Since I’ve been doing this since my sophomore year, I pride myself on my skimming skills. Do not read the rubric word for word, that’s what will contribute to your writer’s block. Knowing every single requirement for a writing assignment will lead you to discourage yourself from writing because you’ll be aware if you don’t hit every single requirement. Ignorance (in this sense) is complete bliss. Skim over the rubric, write until you hit the page requirement, look back, make adjustments and submit.
The next precaution is sleeping on it. I know for many students, this is a given. Having trouble with an assignment always equals taking time for a nap and, thankfully, this is indeed a good practice to use in order to avoid the frustrations that come from writer’s block. If you’re having trouble with an assignment, it’s best if you close the laptop for the day and, if possible, sleep on it. This gives your brain a chance to not worry about the assignment for a few hours, get a new perspective on it, and gain more energy to complete it when you come back to it. Once again, this precaution is an unconscious standard practice I do. If I am able to, I will take a 30 minute, 2-hour, or 8-hour nap. If I’m in a horrible situation where an assignment is due within 2 hours, I close my laptop and lay down without falling asleep. This calms my brain and takes away some of the stress that comes from staring at a blank screen with no words coming to mind.
Doing an activity that calms your nerves is my favorite precaution to take. This said activity can be anything, whether it be watching tv, listening to music, going for a walk, dancing, etc. Just like the other two, this precaution has become an unconscious standard practice for me. Anytime I write, whether it be academic or creative, I listen to slow music. The reason why I do this is because slow music calms my nerves down. When I’m really feeling writer’s block, I’ll do a 15-minute dance break. I know that sounds ridiculous, so let me explain. Dancing, just like listening to music, is something I do every single day. I dance after I eat, before I go to sleep, when I want to do a routine, or whenever I feel like it. It’s something that is second nature to me because I’ve been doing it for so long. So when I’m getting discouraged with a writing assignment, I take a break and do what I love, which is listening to music and dancing. It takes my mind off the assignment and brings me happiness for the time being. After doing that for 15 minutes, I feel even more motivated to complete my assignment. Completing an activity that calms your nerves is a good practice because just like sleeping on it, it gives the brain a break and allows dopamine to change the attitude you may have about your assignment.
In Writer’s Block is Preventable, written by Megan Boley, the effects that writer’s block has on the writing process are discussed. Writer’s block is inevitable, says Boley, she’s discovered through her own experiences with writer’s block that it can be prevented as long as certain precautions are taken. She makes a good point by saying writers don’t need to write every day to be good at it. Writing is like any other hobby. Breaks are allowed and even encouraged with writing. Boley gives two different tips that I discussed, which are to let your work rest and write what you feel like writing. These two tips are similar to mine, in the sense that taking a break away from your writing helps when it comes to preventing writer’s block. When in doubt, take a break, step away, do other activities other than writing, and come back to finish what you started.
Writer’s block is something that happens to every writer, therefore, it is a very familiar concept in the writing community. There are many precautions writers can and should take to prevent it from happening. A lot of writers, like myself, have been taking most of these precautions without thinking about the fact that these even are precautions. Since writer’s block isn’t something that writers can avoid, it’s important to follow the precautions that can be taken, which are, not referring to the rubric, sleeping on it, and doing an activity that calms your nerves. These three precautions, if taken correctly, can prevent the effects of writer’s block.