Media Shower writer Shelley Branch is a full-time writer and editor who specializes in careers, education, and home improvement.

Writer’s block. We’ve all been there, or at least experienced it in some capacity throughout our lives, whether it was a high school paper, a simple blog post or a looming deadline at work. Staring at a blank screen at a loss for words happens to even the best of writers. But what causes this seemingly unavoidable condition to throw a wrench into the gears of our creativity, and how can we overcome it? Since writer’s block reveals itself in many different ways, there are a few simple and effective methods you can use to stop it in its tracks and finally start (or finish) that article or blog post that’s been holding you back.

Writing content

Consider each new writing situation a learning experience.

Understanding the Source

Most of us have dealt with writer’s block in some way, but what actually causes it? According to The Writing Center at UNC, writer’s block is often associated with anxiety or apprehension related to writing, especially when dealing with new types of writing or unfamiliar topics. It often occurs when time isn’t utilized properly, or when you’re over-critical of your own writing. By setting a proper schedule, accepting and using criticism to your advantage, and following the tips below, you can learn to overcome writer’s block.

Always Be Prepared

Ideas always seem to pop up in our heads at the most inopportune moments, like when we’re lying in bed at night, stopped at a red light or in the middle of cooking dinner. How many times have you come up with a genius idea or the perfect phrase, only to forget what it was a few hours later? Keep a small notebook and pen handy, and jot down your ideas or phrases as soon as you come up with them.

Start in the Middle

Sometimes you know what you want to say, but you have trouble formulating a good introduction. According to Capital Community College’s Guide to Grammar and Writing, skipping the intro and going straight to the body of the article might just be a way around a tough start. Before you know it, you’ll have enough creativity flowing to develop the perfect introduction.

Enlist the Help of a Friend

Friend helps with new ideas

Seek out support from a friend to boost your morale and generate new ideas.

If you’re racking your brain and can’t seem to come up with any fresh ideas, ask a friend, family member or coworker for help. Read them a passage of your work, or ask them for some ideas and input. Sometimes a little external inspiration it takes to break down the barrier and get those ideas flowing once again. If you don’t have anyone to ask for help, read through similar works for a fresh perspective.

Try Stream of Consciousness Writing

Getting your mind into the writing zone isn’t always a voluntary process, but there is one extremely effective way to loosen up the creative part of the brain. Stream of consciousness writing, or writing down a word followed by everything that comes to mind after, is a good way to open up your mind and force yourself to think creatively. If you’re working on a screen, try this on paper to switch up the media and break the monotony.

Take a Break

If none of the previous tips resolved your writer’s block and you’re still left staring at a blank screen, take a break. A real break, away from your computer. Get up, take a walk and get some fresh air or just do something else to take your mind off of writing. Quick exercise can energize you and get the ideas flowing again. Just don’t forget to bring your notebook.

For more great ideas to improve your writing process, visit the Content Marketing Academy.