By Lizzie Hofmann
Sometimes I find myself staring at a blank Word document wondering why I’m in graduate school. Pursuing a master’s degree in Spanish isn’t exactly difficult for me since I absolutely love reading, writing, and speaking in Spanish. So why do I find myself with writer’s block if it is a topic I really care about? The answer is more obvious than you would think.
Writer’s block doesn’t always correlate with apathy. Writer’s block is a mental obstacle; it shows that there is something else on the mind of the writer that needs to be addressed. It is so important for writers to understand that a “good” writer isn’t one who can write on demand. Just because someone is “good” at writing doesn’t mean he or she absolutely loves to do it all the time. In fact, I don’t believe it is healthy to write all the time. Just as professional athletes need a rest day from training, writers need a rest day from exercising their brains.
Therefore, when is a good time to write? The perfect time to write is when the writer feels closest to the topic. Writer’s block doesn’t happen when you’re hyped up about a topic. Writers are humans, and humans have instincts. Writers need to recognize their instincts and—when it is appropriate—follow them. Listen to yourself and ask, is it time to put down this rough draft and come back to it later?
I find myself writing at the most random of times. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with something on my mind, and I whip out my iPhone Notes application and type up my thoughts. This actually helps me to get back to sleep. Sometimes I cut my showers short because my brain finally connected two ideas that I’ve been thinking about for days and I need to write it down before more brilliant ideas follow. Sometimes I’m driving down the highway and I realize that I should take a new perspective on a research paper introduction and I pull over to e-mail myself a new introduction paragraph. The common denominator here is that writing happens when it’s best for the writer.
If you have writer’s block, then walk away. If you have something on your mind that’s keeping you from doing your work, then focus on your distraction and come back to your work later. If you figured out how to solve world peace while dangling upside-down on a monkey bar, then by all means write it out in the sand and take a picture of it.