By Kelsey Mulvey
Writer’s block is the worst. It’s time-consuming and can make you question your skills and career. Not to fear Edsters—you’ve come to the right place. While we can’t find the perfect lede for you, we can suggest five surefire ways to conquer your bout of writer’s block. Have a look.
1. Create an outline
No two cases of writer’s block are the same. Sometimes you’re scrambling to find the perfect angle for a story, other times you have too many ideas and aren’t sure how to organize them. If you’re struggling with the latter, try jotting down all your favorite talking points. Instead of scribbling key phrases in a notebook, write complete sentences about how each point will add value to your story. Many times, looking at your assignment with a conversational lens will allow you to see which talking points are the most important and help you frame your article. Or, at the very least, creating an outline will keep you focused on the task at hand.
2. Go for a walk
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: Helplessly staring at your computer screen isn’t doing you any favors. Sure, you may look like you’re busy, but it’s not the most efficient use of your time. Instead, give yourself a change of scenery. Whether you take a lap around the office, treat yourself to a much-needed coffee break, or simply go to the bathroom, getting away from your computer will clear your mind and alleviate some pressure. Hopefully, you’ll come back to your desk with a fresh perspective.
If you’ve written about a topic to death and aren’t sure how you could possibly churn out another article without sounding like a broken record, take some time to do a little research. For example, maybe there’s a study that reveals a new finding about your subject. Just make sure whatever you’re sourcing was published within the last two years. Results can change, and you want to make sure your readers have the most accurate information.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery—and it’s also a great way to cure your writer’s block. To clarify, we aren’t condoning plagiarism.
However, we’re all guilty of defaulting to the same sentence structures and phrases. When you read articles by a writer you admire, you’re exposing yourself to new ways to get your point across that you wouldn’t think of otherwise. Just be sure to give those new phrases a personal twist. After all, nobody likes a copy cat.
5. Ask a colleague
Writing is a very solitary task, and you might forget you have tons of colleagues and fellow writers who are willing to help you during your time of need. Everyone knows how frustrating writer’s block can be. If you’re having trouble communicating a certain point, ask your colleague, friend, or editor. Most of the time, having a fresh perspective is what you’ll need to refocus.
Kelsey Mulvey is a New York-based writer and commerce reporter at Business Insider. She has written for several publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, LuckyMag.com, Wallpaper.com. Check out more of her work at KelseyMulveyWrites.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.