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Writer’s block. It’s a right of passage for even the best writers. We all know the feeling: the helplessness that comes with an empty Google doc and the inability to wrangle your thoughts into a coherent sentence. Before the stress takes over completely, read these tips to conquer your writer’s block:

1. Take a break

Take some time away from your paper. Sitting down for long periods of time is bad for both your health and your writing. Try going for a walk, taking selfies with your cat, taking a shower, or playing badminton with some friends. Though you aren’t actively working on your writing, it’s still there in the back of your mind. And who knows! Maybe a new idea will come to you while you are out and about, living your life.

2. Start with the easy stuff

Sometimes we just need a little warm up! Make sure the heading is in the correct format, reread the prompt, and go over the quotes you need to incorporate, if any. Brainstorm the title of your paper or experiment with colorful and amusing fonts. Do whatever you need to make it more fun. 

3. Just start typing

Turn the brightness of your screen all the way down so that you can no longer see what you are typing. When typing on computers, it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics, making sure all your grammar is correct. Begin jotting all your thoughts down: first impressions, feelings, or anything that comes to your mind. You can also brainstorm by physically writing everything on a piece of paper. There are actually studies that say writing by hand increases creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Remember that it’s okay if things aren’t completely relevant. It’s all about fleshing out your ideas.

4. Create an outline

Now that you have some ideas for your argument, it’s time to make an outline! This is an important step in overcoming writer’s block because it allows you to translate your ideas into something a little more tangible. The art of writing is taking those free-flowing ideas and stringing them into something that is cohesive. It’s easy to lose momentum when you aren’t sure where your essay is going in the first place. So figure out what it is you want to say first, and then the rest will come naturally. Don’t worry if you don’t end up abiding by your outline exactly, it’s just an exercise to organize your thoughts!

5. Brush up on your research

As soon as you finish your first draft, go online or to the library and look for more information to refresh your knowledge. This offers a chance to build your argument, refine your credibility, and confirm your initial thesis. You might even find that you have more to say about your topic, and you can include your new found knowledge to second draft revisions.

No matter if you’re a pro at writing or have trouble composing a grocery list, these tips will lend a helping hand. Who knows, maybe in trying out a few, you’ll discover your own unique writing strategies!