Home Writing Tutors Tips from your favorite literary icons on how to overcome writer’s block

Tips from your favorite literary icons on how to overcome writer’s block


You’re sitting at your desk and it’s crunch time.

That Friday, that day your five-page essay is due, the day that felt decades away? Well, some sly trick has turned that “oh-so-distant-Friday” into “oh-my-God-no-way-today.” You have just enough time to BS, plenty of coffee and maybe a lit candle to sustain you through the excruciating hours to at least scrape a B. 

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The only problem? You have a horrible, disgusting, vexing, unshakeable, irrefutable, unceasing, omnipresent and unbelievable case of a familiar illness: Writer’s block. 

Fear not, fellow procrastinator. Every college student with an impending deadline and all the best creators who have ever lived have surely experienced the weight of this cumbersomeness. The war against writer’s block is an eternal and unfinished battle that will wage on for centuries. 

The deus ex machina this humble writer offers to you, reader, is to drink from the very same well of inspiration that your favorite writers have sipped from before you. 

In other words: What better way to get inspired than to listen to the words of some of the most iconic characters ever written? Below are some tips straight from the doggy-eared pages of your favorite books: 

“It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.”

The hold this quote had on young readers in the 2010s was nothing short of astounding.  Remember all the Pinterest pictures with this quote plastered over it? The Tumblr boards? 

Augustus Waters is the king of wordy sentiments and well-thought-out pretentiousness. His intentions are good, but you can’t help but feel that if he was in a philosophy class with you, you might have a headache from how much you’d roll your eyes. 

Channel him during your essay. Being pompous in academic settings is par for the course, so you may as well think of the most Augustus way to say something, and then type away. 

“Do I dazzle you?”

No one else other than vampire heartthrob Edward Cullen from “Twilight” could have gotten away with saying this … and making it sound oddly sexy? 

That abstract moroseness personified so well by Edward, and his overall bad boy persona, is perfect for your essay. Dazzle your professors with your slightly above averageness! 

“I mean, it’s sort of exciting, isn’t it? Breaking the rules?”

Lumos! This Hermione Granger quote can be quite illuminating (get it? no?). She’s the ultimate bookish babe who can provide insight for how to juggle intense schoolwork with adventure. Be creative and defy the norm as you dance with writer’s block. Maybe go for a quick walk outside or jump around in your room to a few songs to get that adventurous spirit going. 

“At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead. The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.”

Baddie Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” became a symbol for an entire revolution to overthrow a corrupt and unfair government. Her advice is to just face the essay. It’s that easy, sometimes — right after finding the immense strength that it takes to get your brain and body to begin writing. 

Read and reread the prompt, limit all surrounding distractions and just don’t give yourself the option to experience writer’s block. Like Katniss, consider confronting and conquering it because you must, and you have no other choice. 

“Oh, sleep. Nothing else could ever bring me such pleasure, such freedom, the power to feel and move and think and imagine, safe from the miseries of my waking consciousness.”

The advice of the unnamed narrator of “My Year of Rest and Relaxation?” Sleep a lot. 

Working is hard and it’s safe to say that we’re all burnt out, and doing an essay when experiencing writer’s block is one of the most excruciating experiences ever. There’s always the option of taking a teeny little nap to collect your thoughts in between the safe space of a soft blanket and a couch pillow. 

The only problem is that it might be a little too difficult to return to consciousness after experiencing the immense pleasures outside of the waking world. The potential problem with snapping advice is that you may find yourself, as the dear narrator of this book has, giving in too much to sleep. Set a few outrageously loud alarms to ensure that your quick nap doesn’t divulge into a missed assignment. 

“But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

Samwise Gamgee from “The Lord of the Rings” said this to Frodo just as the latter was having doubts about the troublesome path he was on. Sam’s advice is essential to the stricken writer: The illness is fleeting. And so is the essay you’re struggling to complete. 

It’s temporary, and it’ll be over soon.

Finding inspiration from some of the most well-known literary characters may help you when that old menace writer’s block makes its presence known exactly when you can’t afford to spend time searching for a divine lightning bolt of genius. 

It’s time to shake off sloth and sensuality and fight the abandoned fight, as Sydney Carton more-or-less said in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” Do as all others have, and write in spite of the block!

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