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What to Do When You Are Stuck

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First, know that it is normal to feel stuck. This is what we call writer’s block. Sometimes you just do not know what to say next when you write. If this happens to you, try some of these ideas:

  • Do not panic. Remember, feeling “stuck” is normal even for the most experienced writers. Think of your favorite author. He or she experienced writer’s block at some point, too.
  • (If your paper is on the computer) Try handwriting the next part with a pen or pencil. Or, even try writing with something fun, like a gel pen or crayon.
  • Take a step away from the writing. This will clear your mind. Take a walk, ride your bike, pet your dog, call a friend, etc.. Whenever possible, try not to force ideas.
  • Start early with the writing process. If a teacher assigns a paper that is due in a week, start inventing right away. This will help you avoid forcing ideas or simply writing the first thing that comes to mind, even if it is not very good.
  • Talk about your paper with a friend or family member, or even talk to the family pet.
  • Talk with your teacherabout his or her ideas to get “unstuck.”
  • Have patience.Coming up with ideas takes time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time.
  • Know that you can always change your ideas before you turn in the final draft of your writing.
  • Try listening to music while you come up with ideas. While this might distract some writers, many writers find that music helps ideas flow. Try your favorite music or music that you think is calming.
  • Do not worrying about grammar and spelling when you invent and write your first draft.
  • Trust your voice and ideas. Do not compare yourself with other people and their work. Know that you have something special to say and your unique way of saying it.

See the Symptoms and Cures for Writer’s Block resource on the Purdue OWL for more information about beating the block.