Writer's Block: A Short Anthology of Things To Do

01:06 Unknown 0 Comments

The idea of writer’s block is not uncommon among students, especially in your last year of university. If you’re not behind on deadlines are you really writing a dissertation? Although I’ve opted out of writing one, I still got twenty things I’m behind on that are not helped by feeling writer’s block. I will relate a few aspects of Oxford life that have helped me cope during these periods where I got to nurture my brain into productivity again. Quick disclosure being, I also write often and for pleasure, so this isn’t exclusively in academic writing.

Reading being a helpful thing that it is, reading for pleasure becomes a lost art whilst being a student. It sounds crazy but picking up a book without expecting heavy academic content from it can actually be a truly relieving thing. In honour of LGBTQ History Month, I purchased a really cheap copy of all of Oscar Wilde’s plays. Reading them at night and acting out the parts all has been a thoroughly enjoyable endeavour that’s restored my ability to A) pick up a book and B) enjoy what I’m reading. After all, I do actually enjoy reading my assignments, my course and the modules I picked were picked for a reason (I like, like what I study). So sometimes it becomes a matter of shocking your body back into remembering ‘reading is good, do it’.

Talking to friends about my feelings became a really important step in kicking my brain back into high gear. It might come as a surprise; they weren’t totally foreign to what I was feeling. In fact, highkey, they were feeling exactly the same way, only perhaps, coping way better with things. Each one of my flatmates was a grounding force in helping me write again. One would tell me to start small, writing bits and pieces till I felt confident enough to go all out in a paragraph. Another would tell me to go into the wilderness (aka South Park) and sit back and take in the scenery, no music or phone, just me and nature for a couple of minutes. Sometimes that’s what it takes for your mind to relax enough into wanting to say something and put it on paper.

Having said that, attending lectures and seminars (but especially lectures) can do wonders for a blocked mind, especially if you’re taking notes. My mind goes into auto-pilot for the hours that I’m making notes trying to make sense of theorists and academics. But the feeling of accomplishment at the end can be quite encouraging.

The university Poetry Centre will be having a few events in the coming weeks, looking forward to a recital makes me genuinely excited to have something to say. Expectations and deadlines are nerve-wracking, but maybe they serve a purpose. That sense of urgency will help break you out of a block too. Ultimately, I’m not the person to ask how to be the most productive writer, but I find every little bit of advice help when trying to get into the groove of things.

Best of luck Brookes.