5 Tips to Help You Vanquish Writer’s Block


Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash.

This post was written by Kendell Bergeron, a senior Undergraduate Consultant with majors in Economics and Accounting and a minor in English.

We’ve all been there. You might be sitting at your desk or in a coffee shop with a paper due in a matter of hours, Word document open at the ready… and all you can do is stare at your blinking cursor. The diagnosis is in: you seem to have a nice case of writer’s block.

Maybe you feel like you’ve been working on your draft for hours and you’re stuck on revisions. Maybe you’ve taken lots of notes on your source texts and outlined your paper but you can’t figure out how to start. Maybe you haven’t even thought about this assignment yet and you found this blog post at 9pm with an 11.59pm deadline impending so you want me to stop beating around the bush and get to these lifesaving tips! I hear you. Take a deep breath. Let’s do this.

  1. Start where you’re confident.

Most of us write papers from the beginning. Often, that’s a good place to start. But sometimes the best way to get a draft rolling is not the introduction or even the first point of your argument. If those sections are feeling stale and uninspiring, try writing the part of your paper that interests you the most!

Just by getting those fingers typing and your brain juices flowing, you might finish your favorite section of the paper and realize that you’re more motivated to complete another section that you were stuck on before.

  1. Find the strategy that’s right for you.

Reality check: writing is a process! And even more importantly, figuring out the best writing process for you takes time and practice. If you’re feeling like a deer in the headlights when confronted by a blank Word document, try jotting down some thoughts that you want to write about in bullet points or in a more formal outline. Follow the process that works for you and be patient.

Some writers like to create a detailed outline to follow. Some writers like to start drafting right away and see where they end up. Personally, I like to write an overview outline and then employ a strategy that I call “the crap draft.” When I remind myself to expect imperfections and that I’ll have time to revise my writing before I submit it, I put so much less pressure on each word that I type! I can write a first draft without slowing myself down by obsessively editing along the way. It’s just one step in the writing process.

  1. Give your brain a breath of fresh air.

If perfectionism isn’t your problem but your brain still feels like a brick that can’t tell the difference between symbolism and a semicolon, this might be a good time to take a break.

You could go for a quick walk, literally letting fresh air wake up your brain and enjoying some soothing silence. You could take a power nap or make a cup of tea. If you want to stay in a productive zone, try using a different part of your brain than you use when you’re writing. If you have any classes that focus on quantitative reasoning like math, science, or business, do some homework from those subjects. Or answer emails! By taking time to step away from your paper, your mind will feel a lot fresher when it’s time to start again.

  1. Make some space.

With so many brilliant thoughts swimming around before we can get them down on paper, our heads can feel overwhelmingly jumbled when we’re trying to start writing. Take a moment to think about creating the workspace that helps you think through your ideas most clearly.

Do you focus best when you’re alone or with the accountability of a study partner? Does it help you to be comfortable on the couch or do you work better at a desk or table? Does your best thinking happen in the morning, before dinner, or late at night?

If you don’t have options apart from working in your dorm room right now, even taking a moment to calm the chaos by making your bed and clearing your desk can make a huge difference! Being in a physical space that’s tidy and focused can make our mental space feel more organized and approachable too.

  1. Talk it out.

It’s usually easier to explain all that you want to write in your essay out loud than it is to write everything down for the first time. The best tip we can give you: make an appointment with the Writing Center! Our tutors love to ask questions about your ideas and help you process any points you’re feeling stuck on. Whether you’re paralyzed by writer’s block just looking at the prompt or feeling like you can’t possibly stare at your draft for another minute, we can help you brainstorm or talk your way through it.

We’re even offering extended hours this semester, so you could make a 9pm appointment and talk to a tutor online from your dorm room! But if you don’t have a chance to visit the UWC before your deadline, try talking it out with a friend or even recording yourself on a voice memo and writing down what you hear yourself say.

And with all these tips, remember to have some grace for yourself. Writing isn’t easy for anyone and starting is the hardest part! You’re equipped now with some surefire strategies to vanquish the nefarious nemesis that is writer’s block forever. Good luck!



Author’s bio: Kendall is a senior from the Pacific Northwest with majors in Economics and Accounting and a minor in English. She loves a rainy day with a very large mug of tea and a book—her most recent favorite is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. You’re likely to find Kendall making another cup of coffee, doing yoga, creating content for her cat’s Instagram, or trying new recipes for her food blog.

Wait, the UWC can’t close; I still have papers to write!


We have reached the last day of courses for the spring semester, which also means we have reached the last day that the Baylor University Writing Center will be open. We’ll pause here to give you a minute to ugly cry.

Thank you for your deep emotional investment. Now dash away those tears, because we can still help you even if we aren’t open for appointments! Below you will find a list of 5 resources and tips to help you navigate your final papers with such ease, you’ll think one of our consultants was sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet suggestions in your ear. You’ve got this; you possess all the tools needed to write those papers and submit them with confidence!


  1. Citations and formatting: One of the most stressful elements of writing a paper can be figuring out how to comply with the formatting and citation guidelines prescribed by your professor, especially if it’s a new style guide to you. STEM majors are always perplexed by ENG 1310’s MLA guidelines, just like Humanities majors want to cry when their PSYC 101 professor requires APA formatting. Style guides remind us that we’re all human, y’all. But don’t worry! Here is a link to Purdue Online Writing Lab’s (affectionately known as Purdue OWL) guides to the three most common styles. They have really helpful resources. We recommend looking at sample papers of each style, as just reading instructions doesn’t always make visualization easy.
    1. MLA: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_and_style_guide.html
    2. APA: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html
    3. Chicago/Turabian: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/chicago_manual_of_style_17th_edition.html
  2. Grammar and spelling: While the UWC’s main purpose is to help you develop higher order skills when it comes to your writing (such as awareness of audience, thesis statements, logical structure, etc), we recognize that concerns about grammar and spelling remain close to students’ hearts when it comes to feeling confident in their writing. To this end, many students find tools like Grammarly helpful, but even Microsoft Word’s spell and grammar check is a great start! See those red and blue squiggle lines on your essay? Right click on one to figure out if it’s an error you need to address, or just that Microsoft Word refuses to recognize that “fantabulous” is a real word in your dictionary.
  3. Read your paper aloud: If you have ever been to the UWC, you know that we always ask you to read your work aloud. And if you’ve ever been to the UWC, you know that this may be the most valuable editing tool. Our eyes are trained to skim and skip (think how quickly you scroll through your Insta feed…); in fact, you’re probably skimming this article right now! Skimming is a great tool, but not when you’re editing a paper. Slow down, read aloud, and force yourself to pay attention to each word. Odds are you’ll catch both spelling and grammar errors, identify repetition (when you realize you’ve said the same thing aloud 5 times, maybe it’s time to cut or consult a thesaurus), pick up on awkward wording, and realize abrupt paragraph transition. Do yourself a favor: read that paper aloud!
  4. Underline topic sentences: You know how everyone online has been posting thirst traps about their new knitting habit or their exhorbitant scrapbooking endeavors? Now it’s your turn! Pull out those highlighters and sticky tabs and start marking your topic sentences! Why do this? Well, you may find that some paragraphs have no topic sentences at all, some have multiple topic sentences, and others have a topic sentence but one that comes at the end of the paragraph instead of the beginning. Get crafty with those papers! Hilarious Memes for Crafters - Craftfoxes
  5. Reverse outlining: This is one of our most popular strategies at the UWC. Reverse outlining is where you read through each paragraph and try to condense it down to one condensed sentence. If you can’t, you clearly need to split the paragraph up so that each point can have it’s own real estate. Once you’ve done this with each paragraph, read each condensed sentence in order. Is there a logic to the progression? Should your points be rearranged? Is there a gap in your reasoning? These are all things that add up to big points on an essay grade, so go ahead and take the time to get cozy with your content.


We could go on and on, but we know you’d stop reading. Do you have any tried and true editing techniques? Share them below, we’d love to hear about them! Regardless, know that we are thinking of you all as you wrap up this weird semester and all that that entails. Good luck on your final projects, best wishes on your summer, and to our wonderful graduating seniors, our prayers and hopes go with you!


From everyone at Baylor UWC, we bid you a fond farewell and look forward to serving you again in the fall! (PSA: we will have limited summer hours for online appointments, so if you are taking summer classes, we will still be around to help J)