Writer’s Block: Tips for Technical Writers

Posted in Technical Writing on 1/19/20183 min read

Writer's block

Tell us if the following sounds familiar. You have to create the knowledge base for a product. You read the instructions carefully, do your research, and clarify any knowledge gaps with the development team. But, when it’s time to sit down and write the content, crickets. You can’t type one single word. You have a sense of panic and desperation setting in as the blank document stares you in the face. That is a case of writer’s block.

Wait for a second, you may be thinking! Can a technical writer suffer from a creative block? After all, creating a knowledge base doesn’t require creative thinking, so how can they experience this struggle?

You’re right, technical writing requires other skills than fiction writing, but that doesn’t mean the writers are free from harm. A lot of different factors can lead to writer’s block. They are:

  • Pressure – It can be caused by the work environment or the importance of the project;
  • Timing – You’re not in the right mindset. The will to write is pretty peculiar, and sometimes the creative juices just aren’t flowing when you need them to;
  • Perfectionism – It may be hard to write because all your ideas just don’t seem good enough.

The problem with writer’s block is that you can’t just wait for it to pass, especially if an important project is depending on your content. So, what can you do when your brain is stuck, and the words just aren’t there?

These tips might help:

Clear Your Mind

Distractions are writer’s worst enemies. You can’t overcome any challenges when you have a million different things demanding your attention. So, the first thing you should do if you want to beat writer’s block is to stay 100% focused on the topic at hand.

Try to clear your mind before you start writing the documentation. If you find it hard to focus, go for a walk and let your mind run free for a while. Or do some physical exercises to help your body release some endorphins and improve your mood.

Clear your mind

Get Inspired

Sometimes, the subject you have to write about just isn’t giving off the right inspiration. There’s no shame in looking at other people’s work to get inspired.

It’s an excellent way to get your creative juices flowing. After all, you’re not copying other people’s work; you’re just researching a particular subject.

Don’t Overthink It

You have to create the knowledge base for a major client. They are expecting the work to be exquisite and you’re already feeling the pressure. Not to mention, this project could give you that promotion you were aiming for so long.

It can get overwhelming.

Don't overthink

It’s pretty common for a technical writer to overthink their work, and strive for absolute perfection. The problem with this approach is that you’re going to obsess over every little detail instead of focusing on the bigger picture.

Don’t stop every other two sentences to re-read your content and correct it. Just start writing, and worry about perfecting the document during the editing process.

It’s Not an Exact Science

Sadly, there’s no sure-fire way to beat writer’s block. Try different tips and see what works for you. If you just can’t get out of it, ask your fellow writers for advice. Maybe they’ve struggled with writer’s block too and know what can help you.

Good Luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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