7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block for Ph.D. Students

A Ph.D. student might experience writer’s block and look for ways to overcome it. Doctoral students complete their dissertation as a way of presenting their research and its interpretation to the academic community. This writing process can, at times, be more difficult for some people than others. At different time periods during the completion of their dissertation, a student can experience challenges because of having writer’s block.

1. Goals

During the writing process, the doctoral student can use goals as a way to outline their ideas and plans for set time periods. The goal setting process can allow them to plan ahead. When they accomplish each goal, they can move onto other sections and start the process again. As they approach writing the sections of their thesis, they can have set goals developed for each one. These goals can be a part of the process of deciding the appropriate amount of time to spend on each area.

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Before starting out again after experiencing writer’s block they can schedule their next day, week, or month ahead of time and have specific deliverables to accomplish. This process of goal setting could allow them to brainstorm their ideas. Scheduling time to develop their goals could take their mind off the actual writing process for set periods and motivate them as they move forward.

2. Sections

If a doctoral student has more difficulty getting words down for the section of their dissertation, they can move on to another part. This transition doesn’t have to be permanent. They can need to deliver certain sections at specific times. On the other hand, moving to a new section for a short time period can allow their mind to focus on a new area and maybe refresh it. After finishing the time they have devoted to working on a different section they can then move back to the previous part. This could keep someone’s attention more focused as they can periodically change their concentration to different things.

3. Opinion

While writing, they can seek opinions from trusted sources. These can different from their academic advisers. They could get opinions on their writing from other students in their department or outside sources. Depending on the area of research a person reading the thesis might not understand all the technical terms but can still give an informed opinion on the flow and style of the work.


The student can use these opinion gathering times as brainstorming sessions. People reading might ask questions and during the student’s answer, they could think of different directions or ideas they want to present. Getting an opportunity to discuss their area of research with other people outside their field can possibly refresh their writing mindset and they can begin again.

4. Environment

A doctoral student can take steps to move their workspace to a new area if they are experiencing writer’s block. Sometimes a person can get a renewed focus after shifting their normal environment for a new one. If the student has been working on a certain area of a library or other university location, they can inquire about other options. If the student does overcome writer’s block after shifting their working location, they might plan ahead and routinely set periods to work and then shift to a new place. The student can assess their situation and try and figure out if a new place to work would benefit their writing process.

5. Exercise

When encountering writer’s block a student can pause and get exercise. The act of moving could reinvigorate them to be able to work again. Some people could find it additionally beneficial to exercise in an outdoor environment. The student could meet with friends and maybe get some exercise while playing a sport. This combination of physical movement with a chance to talk with others could get them back in the writing mindset. If they find that exercise aided their writing they can then incorporate some sort of exercise into their daily routine to keep from experiencing writer’s block less often.

6. Interruption

Sometimes writer’s block can be the result of interruptions that challenge the writing process. In their home and work environment, the doctoral student could encounter different interruptions. Creating a space during work hours that is free from distractions could reduce their writer’s block.

7. Rest

Getting healthful rest could be a way for a doctoral student to experience writer’s block less often. The student can focus on receiving adequate sleep during the time periods they have difficulty writing. If possible they can try and make an effort to give their brain time to recharge. If their schedule doesn’t allow this as often, they can incorporate mind rest periods throughout the work day. They can schedule a certain number of hours to work and then a set period to relax without working. Keeping to the schedule could be more beneficial even if they feel motivated to go on. Each rest period they can give the mind time to recalibrate and then you can write your best dissertation.

Students pursuing a Ph.D., at various times experience writer’s block during the graduate thesis writing process. They can seek ways to overcome these down times and look to the future to reduce the possibility of this happening more often. Reviewing the above concepts, a doctoral student can get ideas of how to overcome writer’s block and become more productive.



Janet Anthony is a blogger from Kansas City who has been writing professionally for five years now. She mostly writes about blogging, writing tips, social media and digital marketing. Her motto is “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows”.


Janet Anthony is a blogger from Kansas City who has been writing professionally for five years now. She mostly writes about blogging, writing tips, social media and digital marketing. Her motto is “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows”.