LEOLEO: Literacy Education Online

Overcoming Writer's Block


Even if they manage their time and follow writing guidelines, many writers will still experience a time when the words just won't come together, when they are simply "stuck" and can't think of anything to write. This is writer's block. Fortunately, a few helpful techniques make it possible to overcome the challenge of writer's block.

Experiment -- Try to write in different places, at different times, and with different writing instruments.

Freewrite - Choose one sentence in a paragraph and write a paragraph about it. Then choose one sentence from that paragraph and do it again.

Cluster - Choose key words and ideas; then write associated ideas and words in clusters around them. This process often forms new ideas.

Be flexible -- Be willing to throw out sections of text that are causing problems or just don't work.

Follow a routine -- Follow a routine to get into the writing mood. Try activities like wearing comfortable clothing, using a certain pen, or listening to a particular CD or type of music.

Move -- Physically move around, stretch, or walk.

Take a break -- Get a snack or drink, talk to someone, or just relax for five minutes before starting to write again.

Concentrate -- Focus on a different section or aspect of your paper. This sometimes leads to new insights in problem areas, while allowing you to get work done on another section.

Re-read -- Read a print draft of the paper and jot down ideas while reading.

Relax! -- The more you worry, the harder it gets to think clearly.


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LEO provides online handouts about a variety of writing topics. We do not offer online tutoring, answer questions about grammar or punctuation, or give feedback about your writing or papers. To ask questions or offer suggestions about these handouts, please email us at

leolink @ stcloudstate.edu

(To email us, be sure to delete the spaces around the @ sign, which we put there to fend off spam.)


© 1995-2002 The Write Place

LEO: Literacy Education Online

This page was written by Vicki Vialle for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota, and may be copied for educational purposes only. If you copy this document, please include our copyright notice and the name of the writer; if you revise it, please add your name to the list of writers.

Last update: 3 December 2002

URL: http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/block.html