When writing anything, whether it's a novel, a short story, a poem, an academic paper, or an article for a website, every writer hits that moment when they just don't know what to write. Maybe it's because the blank page is just so intimidating. Maybe it's because you started to read back over what you just wrote and you became your own critic. Or maybe you're just out of ideas! Whatever the reason, when you're working with a deadline, you have to break writer’s block, and fast. I have several different methods that work wonders for me.
Essentially, you just have to clear your mind and not think about your writing for a while. Do whatever you have to in order to accomplish this. Normally, I get up, stretch, and move away from the computer. I don't recommend watching television when trying to break the block, because while it will distract you, chances are you will end up stealing something from whatever it is you just watched. If you are really under a time crunch, make yourself some tea, take a shower, go for a short walk, play with one of your pets, listen to some calming music, or just take a quick nap. Any one of those things will refresh you and focus you, bringing you back to your writing with a sharper mind.
If you’re not working under a deadline, there are many other fun things that can be done with waiting to break writer's block. Some of my favorites include baking cookies, making a meal, doing a little light cleaning, washing the dog (don’t wash the cat if you can avoid it), or just organizing things around the house. Doing something slightly productive but also mindless will help you regain any confidence lost by the length of time you’ve been blocked, and will help you get back to writing faster.
Easily my favorite way to break writer's block (when I’m working on fiction) is to sit down with a notebook and pen and free-write background details, or character sketches. It helps to create a more complete world when you’re writing, and a lot of the time I end up filling whatever plot hole is causing my writer’s block, making returning to my writing that much easier. When I’m working on an article or a paper, I sit down with a pen and paper again and write an outline. That way I don’t forget important points or themes as I’m writing
One of my biggest pieces of advice, though, is to just keep writing. I accidentally took a ten-month hiatus from writing my novel because I had writer’s block that I couldn’t shake, and I never actually broke it. I sat down at my computer one day and decided that I was going to write. I forced out the one sentence that was my block, and suddenly I found myself able to write again. That one sentence was terrible, but that is what editing is for. Highlight the sentence so you remember to go back to it, and keep writing, because the worst thing you can do is stop.