So you’re on deadline with a proposal, report or other written piece and you’re truly stuck. What to say next? How to say it?
Try taking a break from putting words on paper.

Here are 5 things to do, instead of writing, to improve your written work:

1. Research.
Maybe you’re stuck because you really don’t have enough material to keep fueling your writing. Going blank can be a sign that you haven’t done all of the legwork and need to do more fact finding before you can make your points articulately. One giveaway? You lack solid examples or specifics that really tell the story you’re trying to get across.

2. Talk.
Tell a trusted friend/colleague/mentor what you want to say. Voicing your points — in plain language, out loud — sometimes frees up the brain. Explaining, verbally, what you want to say, can flush out the clog that sometimes prevents people from explaining, in writing, what they ought to say. Then you can make the case better when you’re conveying your thoughts on paper.

3. Walk.
Take your thoughts and writer’s block, strap on some running shoes and move. Here’s the trick to this one: Allow yourself to think about the writing and the project as you walk. Picture what you want to accomplish with the piece. Imagine getting the breakthrough you need. Try a 30-60 minute stroll while you think. Then head back and get into it.

4. Plan.
If you don’t already have an outline or a framework for the written project, make one now, while you’re stuck. What’s the most important thing you want to achieve with the report? Why are you writing the proposal? What points should the reader take away? Remind yourself about the main reasons you’re undertaking the effort and then map the work accordingly.

5. Breathe.
Just be. Try to relax and think of something else entirely. Listen to music or brew a cup of tea. Close your eyes. Do something that lets you empty any anxiety that might have crept into your being about the writing and about finishing the task.

And remember, writing doesn’t flow perfectly on the first pass. That’s why those takes are called rough drafts…it’s okay to be clunky or wordy. You can fix it later when you’re revising and editing.

Good luck!