Staring at a blank page

Writer's block - or is it?

DUB's blogger Katrina looks straight into the camera
Photo: courtesy of the student.

For many students, like myself, writing can be a form of escapism. Writing stories and poetry helps me feel like I am doing something productive, while also doing something for myself. The feeling of creating something new is so great and exciting, and I wish I could say I have never experienced a block in my writing, but let’s be honest – every person that writes has had this experience. What is the origin of writer’s block, and how do you get rid of it?

To briefly describe this awful phenomenon, writer’s block is one’s inability to write or come up with new ideas for their writing. Whatever it is, the text just won’t form and all your ideas become dust. It sort of feels like a veil is over your creative side of the brain and the information is just barely out of reach. For many writers, this feeling can be very discouraging and even scary. Just recently, I had to experience this awful feeling myself and it was a truly nerve-racking experience.

Just like every responsible student, I had left an important assignment for the very last two days before the submission deadline. I had a completely blank page but I was not worried since I’ve always been able to come up with something really quickly. Just when I sat down to write the assignment, my brain went into overload. Trying to form an idea took me three whole hours and, just when I'd finally got a grasp on it, it was gone and I was left staring at a blank page once again. I could not understand what was going on, since it had never happened to me so drastically. The panic completely took over me, I did not know what to do.

Sometimes, to get into the mindset of a certain task, you must submerge yourself in a specific environment, which is why I decided to go to the library. Even in that setting, I could not concentrate and write anything down. After many hours, I just gave up. Turns out, it was just what I needed. I was so exhausted from the fast-paced student life that I completely forgot to give myself time to rest and do something outside of school. After resting for a while and doing absolutely nothing productive, my brain had the energy to come up with ideas once again and I finally started working.

Academic life is exciting and fun but it can also be very intense and stressful. While constantly trying to be on top of everything, students often forget to step out of academic life and just rest. The origin of my writer’s block turned out to be exhaustion and lack of relaxation but it can have many other reasons, like lack of socialisation or fun. The best way to get rid of writer’s block is to do something completely unrelated. Going out for a run or a drink, or just sleeping. Watching a documentary or taking a day trip to a different city. All these activities can help our brain to restart and get to a ready-to-go state once again. An even better solution is not letting it get this bad – even though it seems like students should spend all their time studying, it is just as important to rest and have fun.