Creative Rut: How to Help Your Student Bust Out of Writer’s Block

a woman taking notes

Nothing’s more frustrating than writer’s block. For students, though, the struggle could be so discouraging to the point of having a self-defeating attitude. What happens often is they never revisit the story they started and give up on writing altogether. This is a depressing experience for any writer, but you can do something to turn things around.

As a teacher or coach, you have a big role to play in the overall development of your students. They need to acquire all the skills and develop the right mindset to become successful in their chosen field.

So, just before the world loses a budding writer, help your student bust out of that writer’s block with these tips:

1. Tell them it’s perfectly normal

The reason students think they’re such a failure when they can’t write a sentence or two is the thought that they’re not good enough for a task that’s supposed to be ‘easy’. You should be able to explain that writing is a complex cognitive job, which is why hitting a wall down the road is normal and never a reflection of one’s incompetence.

It’s important to start with this talk when addressing the problem because a struggling student during this time is often at the point of low self-confidence, and unless they’re taken out of it, any writing prompt will be blocked by that discouraged spirit. Let them understand that writer’s block is normal and happens to the best of us, and they can overcome it.

2. Establish small goals

writing on a notebook

The writing task may be too overwhelming for the student. This may be due to your expectations for the task or the writer may be an overachiever, creating unrealistic goals for themselves. Whatever the reason, try to break up the tasks in small, reachable goals. For instance, you can tell your students to write up to five sentences only, introducing the character of the story.

When they do hit such goals, celebrate it by praising their work or letting them read in front of the class. When they get to the point of completing the entire story, encourage them to publish their work. There are free book publishing for students you can recommend to the class. This is a good way to boost their confidence and inspire them to continue writing.

3. Let them write freely

Sometimes, what a writer needs is a break from the page they’re working on. Get them away from the story they’re writing for a while and encourage them to write freely. In a separate piece of paper, let them scribble a few words and phrases that first pop into their heads, and then ask them to associate more words and phrases to what’s already written. What you’re doing is you’re exercising their brain into exploring different ideas, making it a little more malleable for creativity.

Self-esteem and self-worth are important for budding writers. Encouragement and inspiration keep them going. Always affirm their hard work and let them know that the fact that they’re struggling is a mark of an emerging, good writer. They will surely thank you for doing that once they become successful in the future.

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