A day in the life: tips for overcoming writer’s block

In this post, ASSC College’s intern, Paige, introduces us to the second instalment of her series: A day in the life… This series will look at what the reality of life at university is like.

We’ve all been there. And if you haven’t, you’re lying. Writer’s block can set you back big time, and it’s not unusual to find yourself lost for words in the middle of an important assignment.

Whether you know what you’re trying to say but aren’t quite sure how to say it, or you just don’t know what you want to write, these tips are foolproof in breaking down those writer’s block barriers.

Here are my top 5 tips to overcome writer’s block:

Walk away

It sounds like the easy way out, but just leave it. Pack up what you’re writing and go, for an hour or a day, it doesn’t matter. Give yourself some space to think and recuperate. If now is not the time, then so be it. Treat yourself to a yummy snack, Netflix or take a walk outdoors. Clearing your mind can alleviate the stress and anxiety of having to complete the task right then and there. Exercise, food or even some social time out will allow you to de-stress and come back with a clear mind. And hey, you never know where you might get some inspiration from!

Get a second opinion

Believe me when I say that you can only read your assignment over a certain amount of times. After you’ve read your piece for what seems like a thousand times, all the words begin to merge together and you won’t be able to pick up simple spelling and punctuation errors. Pass it on to a friend or family member. Some fresh eyes will never go astray and you’ll be surprised how opinions of others can spark new ideas.


Change up your work environment. This can be as simple as moving from your bedroom to the kitchen or library. I often find that I spend so much time in the one space, or at the one desk and it drives me insane. I find that moving to an unfamiliar space helps me the most. There are no familiar distractions and I can start from scratch – try it!

Set a deadline

Okay, set yourself aside 20 minutes. Throw your phone away and escape any noise or distractions. You can use this time for anything, and it can vary depending on your time constraints (but if you’ve read Uni 101, you’ll know that you shouldn’t be leaving things until the last minute). Whatever you choose to do, use the entirety of the time to focus on your assignment, there is no point being half-focused. Use this time to make a plan and set deadlines.

Some examples include:

“I’m not going to the party on the weekend unless I’ve written at least 600 words”


“I need to have this section completed by Thursday”

Giving yourself something specific to work towards can put your brain into full swing, and give you some relief when you hit the target. It will also let you know that you’re on track to completing the assignment.

Create a word bank

Keep it simple. I find the most useful thing that helps me string together a sentence is to create multiple word banks for assistance. You can break them down into as many topics as you like, but here’s some to get you started:

Essay topic: Sustainability

  • Topic/question- why is sustainability important? what does it involve? how can we raise awareness about it?
  • Word associations- Include words that link to your topic: climate change, healthy living, environment or natural resources.

Once you’ve got your topic headings sorted, grab and pen and start writing. List any words you associate with the topic, ideas that come to mind, key words or sentence starters. Having a list of these things next to you when you’re writing will give you something to bounce off if you get stuck.

The most important thing to remember is not to throw in the towel, it won’t last forever, I promise.

This article was originally published on the WISE ASCC blog.