It’s a familiar story. You’ve been staring at a blank page for the last 20 minutes, all you have written is “the” and no matter what you do, you can’t seem to think of what comes next. Every writer has fallen victim to writer’s block at some point, but here are three things to try the next time you run out of words.
It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to beat writer’s block is to give up. If you’re inside, go outside. Do some gardening, wash your car or just take a walk around the block. Getting up and moving around resets your body and engages your brain, so the next time you sit down to write, you’ll have a fresh perspective and renewed energy.
What if you have fast-approaching deadlines and taking off for a stroll just isn’t a possibility? In that case, you’re going to have to think outside the box. One of the best things to do is to just start writing, even if it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Free write for 10 minutes, even if it’s just typing “I hate writing” for an entire paragraph. Anything to get your brain engaged and your fingers moving will work. If you’re really struggling, it may come down to forcing yourself to put words on a page.
Consider a timer method where you do as much as you can as fast as you can for a set period of time and then get a break before you rinse and repeat. Or maybe try bribing yourself with an episode of your newest Netflix favorite for every 500 words you get done.
See also: 5 Crazy Cures for Writer’s Block
While things like free writing and doodling can help, sometimes they’re Band-Aid fixes on a much bigger problem. If perfectionism is keeping you from being able to get started, add an editing stage in between your initial draft and final proofreading so you have the freedom to make mistakes. Can’t find the right word? Just put an X or a _____ in that spot and keep going. Or maybe burnout is the issue. You have so many words to write that it seems impossible to get it all done. Your anxiety spirals out of control, and before you know it, you’ve cleaned your entire apartment without writing a single word.
If this is you, deal with what’s right in front of you and then take a serious look at your schedule. Maybe you need to limit yourself to claiming only a certain number of words every week to ensure you have time for things like meals and sleep.
Read more: 5 More Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
What other strategies do you use to beat writer’s block?