10 Tools to for a Writer’s Block Emergency

Let’s not mess around: we’ve all had writer’s block and sometimes need help. It doesn’t mean that we’re special or broken or misunderstood geniuses or fools. Our muses are not at the bottom of a Netflix binge or a pot of coffee or a box of crackers. Working with our writer’s block is a learnable skill that takes practice and repetition over time. We’ll get to all that, but if you need to write on a deadline right now, try this course of action:

1. Close all browser windows. Shut off any device you’re not working on, and turn off noises or put on music that is very familiar or has no vocals.

2. Set a timer for 5 minutes and put it out of sight. 

3. Re-type the prompt, topic, date, and any other headings info that’s required. 

4. Write a single thing that you know about the topic. One single thing.

5. When the timer is up:

6. If you’re able, write down an outline

7. Copy any required quotations or research into your working document.

8. Type a single relevant question (who, what, where, when, why, how) and type an answer that question.

9. Read what you’ve written or copied into the document. How are the pieces related? 

10. If you’re still stuck, keep the timer system going, but cycle in one of the following when it’s time to break:

If you need to start another time, be easy on yourself. It isn’t conceding defeat, it’s a strategic retreat. Make a plan for when to pick up again, especially if you struggle with time management. If it’s late at night, here are a few tips to get to sleep efficiently, and you can try again in the morning.