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Breaking Writer’s Block

Skill Development

Ah, writer’s block!

Whether you’re writing a poem, a blog, or your college application essay, the awful writer’s block just may show its ugly head.

In the simplest of terms, writer’s block is defined as the writer’s inability to produce creative content. That definition, however, is an oversimplification. Writer’s block is more of a symptom than a diagnosis. So, before you throw your laptop out of the window in frustration, it’s important to dig down to the root cause of the symptom.

Writer’s block can occur for any number of reasons:

  • Not Enough Time or Too Much Time
  • Lack of Inspiration
  • Perfectionism
  • Idea Overload
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Self-Doubt or Self-Criticism

The Do’s and Don’ts of Breaking Through Writer’s Block


  • Take a break. Go outside and take a walk, make a cup of tea, or go take a shower. Remember to take breaks responsibly.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique.
  • Talk to others who support you. Sometimes all you need is a confidence boost or someone to bounce ideas off of.
  • Write freely. Set a timer and just write anything and everything that flows into your mind.
  • Get rid of distractions.
  • Switch it up. Change your scenery, change your writing tools, or change the time you write.
  • Go for completion over perfection. You can always edit later.
  • Listen to quiet music without lyrics. Not a fan of classical? There’s jazz, ambient music, new age, and even instrumental rock and hip hop.


  • Try to do it all at once.
  • Ignore other to-do items that pop into your head. Write them down before you forget.
  • Wait for motivation. It’s nice when it’s there, but it must be coupled with discipline.
  • Procrastinate.
  • Stare at a blank screen for hours on end.
  • Begin with perfection in mind. There are rough drafts for a reason.
  • Watch TV. A little background noise is okay, but TV may be a larger distraction.

Writer’s block affects us all at one time or another. It’s important not to stop there just because there’s this invisible, albeit very real, obstacle in the way. Just on the other side of that mental block is greatness...and in the case of your college application essay, the beginning of your academic career.

All of the things we discussed are helpful, but the number one way to beat writer’s block is simply to get started. Write those first words and it gets easier, we promise.

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