1. Take a hike. Literally. There’s nothing like a nice long walk and some fresh air—if you can find it—to clear out the cobwebs in your brain. Don’t consciously think about your writing project. Just let your mind wander in step with your feet.
2. Switch to another form of writing or another writing assignment. If you’re stuck on a feature article, write a letter to a friend, even if you have no intention of sending it. Don’t use the keyboard.
3. Do some deep cleaning around the house. Make sure you choose a fairly short but intense chore, something that will take your thoughts away from the computer for a brief time.
4. Read something entirely different from what you’re writing about. It doesn’t have to be great; in fact, a good dose of lousy writing might be all you need to remind yourself that you can write a whole lot better than that.
5. Start a favorite-word list—or better yet, read the list you’ve already started. Whether you realize it or not, there are probably words that you love to hear or read, regardless of their meaning. Keep a list going at all times. You never know when a treasured word or phrase—even if it’s unrelated to what you’re writing—will change the direction of your thoughts and get you going again.
6. Start typing whatever comes to your mind at the point where you left off. Voice your complaints about the piece you’re working on, compose absurd rhymes, or start a journal entry right then and there. Type as quickly as you can, banning all forms of self-censorship. Then get up and walk away, just like that. But come back, of course. Erase the nonsense and get back to work.
7. Track down stories about the horrendous conditions that have faced government writers in oppressive regimes over the years. They didn’t have the luxury of suffering from writer’s block; they were too busy writing so they could meet their mandatory quota for the day. Think of writer’s block as a luxury you can’t afford either.
8. Colorize your copy. Print out what you’ve written so far—or a good chunk of it—and start highlighting the concrete, visual words,those things you can actually see with your mind’s eye. Use your favorite color to highlight. Wherever you see big sections of nothing but black and white, your writing has probably become too abstract. There’s a good chance you’ll find lots of black and white where you got stuck. Give that section some color.
9. Start retyping your notes. That will either jump-start your thinking process by getting you focused on the task at hand, or it will become so annoying that you’ll discover you can actually get going on your real work again.
10. Set a timer for five minutes. Close your eyes and think about the absolute worst job you ever had—the more menial, the better. Remember how it felt to work there, how the place looked and smelled, what your snobby/rude/backstabbing co-workers did to make your life utterly miserable. Ding! Time’s up. Wouldn’t you really rather be writing?