“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper [or a blank screen], and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”—Neil Gaiman
We’ve all been there. Unable to call up the right words, we stare blankly at our screens and grow increasingly frustrated.
What would happen if we let the blank screen win? Instead, we can work on other tasks related to our assignment, but not the writing itself.
Would we have more success when we returned to the writing later on? Let’s find out. Here are eight related tasks to try:
If you haven’t already, create an outline to organize your thinking about the topic. The outline can then form the foundation for your project. Unlike outlines you were required to create in high school, this can be as simple as a numbered list.
2. Play a word game.
Working on a crossword puzzle, playing a writing-prompt game or even playing Cards Against Humanity can help spark your creativity.
3. Talk to someone about your topic.
Choose someone who doesn’t know anything about your topic and tell them what you’re writing about. The act of explaining your topic in a conversation will help you summarize the information and organize your thoughts.
4. Draw or diagram your topic.
If you’re having trouble coming up with the right words, think about your topic visually or graphically. Draw the concept or search for images that relate to your topic. Create a flow chart or mind map.
5. Find keywords and synonyms.
Using a thesaurus and listing words related to your topic may also jumpstart your creativity. You can use online keyword search tools to help broaden your thinking about the topic.
6. Read a chapter from your favorite book.
Whenever I find myself struggling with a writing project, I turn to my favorite authors. Re-reading their words and re-visiting their stories provides inspiration for any writing task.
7. Ask another writer for advice.
Find a co-worker or colleague whose work you admire and ask that person for advice.
Connecting with another writer is a great way to solicit feedback and gain perspective on your topic. You can also connect with writers online on Wattpad, LinkedIn or Twitter.
8. Watch a video on your topic.
Viewing a video can help you think about your topic visually. Videos are generally short and to the point, so watching them may prompt new questions about your topic and give you ideas for content.
What writing-related tasks do you work on when you’re stuck, PR Daily readers?
Laura Hale Brockway is writer and editor from Austin, Texas. She is a regular contributor to PR Daily and the author of the grammar/usage/random thoughts blog, impertinentremarks.com. This article was previously published on PR Daily in August 2016.