University Writing Center Blog

Posted on October 3rd, 2019 in Writing Strategies by University Writing Center

(that don’t include visiting the UWC for a regular appointment)

Written by: Stephanie M.

Can’t make an appointment but have a bad case of the Writer’s Block or Procrastination? Try one (or more!) of these tips that I’ve collected as a writer:

  • Write for 15-20 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. Make sure this break is away from any digital screen.
  • Take a pair of scissors and cut each paragraph into its own section. With a pen, either in the margin or on the back, write the main topic or idea of the paragraph in one or two words. Categorize each of your paragraphs into stacks for each concept or idea, then jigsaw your ideas into the order that you want to address each point in.
  • Talk to a friend about what you’re writing about. Be sure this friend can hold you accountable for your writing.
  • Can’t decide on what to write about? Try this: draw an X onto a blank sheet of paper (or if none is immediately available, a blank notebook page will do). In one quarter, jot down a list of 5-10 ideas that you want to write about. In another, jot down any questions you have concerning any of the topics that you’ve listed. In your third, jot down what answers you expect to receive from the questions you’ve just asked. In your last quadrant, list the top three topics that you want to work with based on how you approached filling your second and third quadrants.
  • Try an online writing website like “Written? Kitten!” or “Write or Die”, just remember to copy/paste and save your work somewhere that is retrievable.
  • Take a tip from artist and lecturer Lynda Barry: on a blank sheet of paper, draw a tight spiral from the center of the page while thinking about your topic. Once you’re ready, on another blank sheet of paper write out what you were just thinking about.
  • Take a tip from horror writer Stephen King in his book On Writing: Set a time and place for writing, or a variation of the two factors. I approach this by going to a small coffeeshop during the afternoon on certain days.
  • Find or Make a writer’s group that meets together at a set time and place regularly. Meeting with people who are doing the same kind of work as you might support you in your field. Additionally, having others present who aren’t working on the same kind of thing can offer valuable input as well.
  • Reward yourself. One episode of Parks and Rec never hurt anyone, it’s just when the binge watching begins that you get into trouble.
  • Go to a coffeeshop or café and don’t connect to the wifi. Instead, focus on the Word document or notebook that you are writing in. Take breaks to enjoy a beverage and take in the atmosphere.
  • Find a writing prompt book and respond to a prompt for 5 minutes before beginning to write. Be sure to set a timer for this practice.
  • Begin a blank, bound composition notebook or journal and begin writing in it every day. Take class notes, write fiction stories, write your favorite song lyrics, write about what you’re struggling with, stuff concert ticket stubs in the pages, make it yours, and keep writing in it.