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How to Overcome Writer’s Block and Procrastination

Your deadline is approaching, but all you got is an empty Word document and too many open browser tabs? Then you are no stranger to the swampy realm of procrastination. Procrastination is a widespread psychological phenomenon that can occur in various forms and manifestations, up to a full-on writer’s block.

On this page, you will learn all about the causes of procrastination and writer’s block — and how to beat them effectively. Keep scrolling for helpful tips and practical aid.

MISSING WORDSWhat Is Writer’s Block?

In simple terms, writer’s block is the psychological phenomenon that occurs when you want to (or rather have to) write something but somehow can’t. This does not only affect writers and novelists. Many college students suffer from writer’s block also, especially when they are under the pressure of deadlines, be it for their bachelor’s thesis or a simple term paper. Classic signs of a writer’s block are that you either get stuck at a certain point while already working on an assignment, or that you can’t even get started in the first place. If you are dealing with an academic paper, the paraphrasing of secondary literature in your own words may turn out to be an additional challenge. Academic writing assignments make it even more tempting to procrastinate but eventually that will only cause additional pressure, which may further intensify writer’s block. This vicious cycle is known to most writers. On this page you will learn about methods and strategies that help break writer’s block.

What causes writer’s block?

PROCRASTINATIONWhat Causes Writer’s Block?

Procrastination and writer’s block have various causes. For one thing, countless distractions are competing for our attention in the digital age. Perhaps you know the temptations that may arise when your Facebook stream is just a click away from the (still empty) Word document, while you are at the same time receiving messages on your phone and your inbox is about to spill over. All of this is poison to concentration and greatly hampers the writing process. Insufficient planning and a lack of an overview of the material may also lead to writer’s block. With a blend of anxieties, uncertainties, perfectionism and untrained writing skills, as well as other psychological issues such as stress and depression, a severe writer’s block may threaten even the most relaxed deadline. If you are facing writer’s block, it is crucial to identify the individual causes and to combat them systematically.

Practical advice on how to overcome writer’s block

SOLUTIONSHow to Beat Writer’s Block

There are certain steps you can take to combat procrastination and writer’s block. Here you will find concrete advice.


Force yourself to write!

You might think that you cannot force yourself to be creative, but this belief appears to be a fallacy. At least this is strongly indicated by an experiment carried out by Boice, which tested a group of academics suffering from writer’s block. One part of the group was forced to write daily at fixed times, while the other part was allowed to write in their own time. Those subjects forced to write at fixed times where not only more productive but also showed greater creativity. Hence, when you are facing writer’s block, it is advisable to schedule certain times where you force yourself to write. 

Get rid of distractions!

Distraction is pure anathema to the writing process. Unfortunately, distractions have never been as omnipresent as in the social media age. Free yourself of social media on purpose! Turn off your mobile, close your inbox and temporarily block all social media sites you are using. This will help you to maintain your concentration and eventually increase your productivity.

Know your genre!

A prerequisite of successful writing is knowing about the generic conventions of the text you aim to create. A scientific paper is very different from a news report, for example, and an academic essay varies from a master’s thesis. So it is wise to do some research on the type of text you want to create before you even begin to write. This will not only increase your confidence but also improve your writing style.

Pursue a strategy!

If you don’t know what information you want to share with the reader, efficient writing becomes practically impossibly. It is advisable to outline your text carefully before you start writing. If you are facing an academic paper or thesis, you should begin by developing a coherent structure. Then, think about the contents of the separate chapters and note them down. Use this information to structure and formulate your text. If you want to make sure your outline is on the right track, professional academic writers can help you create a research proposal.

Know your reader!

Adopting the reader’s point of view can help with strategically tackling writer’s block. Ask yourself what readers are going to expect from your text. What are the most interesting insights you have to offer? What information is necessary to comprehend those insights? Keep explanations and factual statements apart from hypotheses and speculations. The most central question is to be: What do you want to express? Start by freestyle formulations, just like you would explain it to your best friend, and take care of the linguistic nuances later.

Don’t be afraid of mistakes!

Don’t worry too much about the details! To reformulate a sentence five times just to end up with the first version is simply a waste of time. If you get stuck at a certain point of your text, proceed to another. An academic paper is hardly ever written chronologically from the introduction to the conclusion. Begin writing wherever it suits you best and don’t be afraid to leave crude formulations as they are for the time being. At the end of the day, this will increase your writing flow and save you time.

help

ACTIVE SUPPORTOvercoming Writer’s Block and Procrastination: Where You Can Turn for Practical Help

Still dealing with persistent writer’s block? At ACAD WRITE, you will find active support. The authors of our academic writing service are specialists in battling writer’s block and are prepared to provide practical help to college students and academics.

Depending on how severe your writer’s block is and on how urgently you need to overcome it, we recommend one of four solutions:

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