How to beat technical writer's block

5a4758faa5ba6c1322bdfb0f6ebcf56c?s=47 Carl Alexander
November 02, 2019

How to beat technical writer's block

These are the slides from a talk given at WordCamp US 2019.

Alright, so you’re a WordPress developer who wants to share his technical expertise with the world. Maybe you want to write on your own blog. Or maybe you want to try to write a guest post for one of the larger WordPress publications.

A common hurdle when you start writing (and even when you’ve been writing for a while) is the writer’s block. You’re stuck staring at a white page because you’re not too sure what to write about. It’s a frustrating experience for pretty much anyone.

So how can you find ideas for technical articles? This is what we’ll look at in this talk. We’ll go over some of the principles that I use for finding ideas for technical articles.

These principles aren’t only useful for finding ideas for technical articles. They’re also great for talk submissions. (Such as this one!) And my hope is that they remove some of the frustrations that you might have with writer’s block.

You can read the companion article at: https://carlalexander.ca/writers-block/

5a4758faa5ba6c1322bdfb0f6ebcf56c?s=128

Carl Alexander

November 02, 2019
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Transcript

  1. How to beat technical writer's block

  2. Carl Alexander

  3. @twigpress

  4. carlalexander.ca

  5. We see our developer peers write wonderful articles

  6. None
  7. None
  8. None
  9. “Maybe I should do the same?”

  10. Obstacle: Writer’s block

  11. “What do I write about?”

  12. “This is ”

  13. Happens to both new and experienced writers

  14. Makes us want to stop writing

  15. Warning: Not going to talk about goals

  16. What to write about?

  17. Most frustrating thing about writer’s block

  18. A lot of sources of material for technical writing

  19. We just don’t think about them that way

  20. A problem that you faced

  21. We often solve problems that we couldn’t find answers to

  22. Others are probably looking for answers just like you were

  23. Why not write about it!?

  24. Easier to write about

  25. Better able to empathize

  26. Something you’re working on

  27. A lot of us have side projects

  28. Write about them!

  29. Tried a new technology?

  30. Used a new concept?

  31. Can't always to try new things at work

  32. Postmortems

  33. Talk about a concept or technology in the wild

  34. Serious effort implementing things

  35. Discuss what went well and what didn't

  36. Interesting to other developers

  37. Valuable when evaluating things for a project

  38. Answer questions

  39. Everyone is asking questions

  40. Pick one and write about it

  41. How I wrote my first article

  42. Where can you find questions to answer?

  43. Things you wish people knew about

  44. Why I started writing

  45. “I feel people should know about this”

  46. “I can’t find anything on it”

  47. Not a topic

  48. Not for developers without a computer science background

  49. Write for your past self

  50. Your writing process

  51. As important as where you get your topic ideas

  52. Developing a regular writing habit

  53. Don’t wait for inspiration to “hit you”

  54. Try to write every day

  55. Doesn’t matter if it’s not great

  56. About getting used to the idea of writing something

  57. It doesn't matter how much you write

  58. We feel that we have to write a lot every

    time we try to write
  59. Experiment with your writing habit

  60. Specific time of the day

  61. Amount of time per day

  62. Number of words per day

  63. How this played out for me

  64. On writing slowly

  65. Benefits to writing slowly

  66. Writing is about putting our thoughts into words

  67. It’s a thinking exercise

  68. Hard to write if things aren’t clear in our head

  69. Writing slowly gives you time to think

  70. Can take a long time to write

  71. Other things to keep in mind

  72. Not specific to dealing with writer's block

  73. Other ways to solve problems

  74. Tempting to say this is “the way” to solve a

    problem
  75. Something that worked for you and might work for others

  76. Like this talk

  77. You don't know everything

  78. Limits to our knowledge

  79. Be honest about what you know

  80. Saying “I don't know” is a sign of strength

  81. Do your best not to be wrong

  82. Try to overcome the limits of your knowledge

  83. Fact check yourself

  84. Working proof of concept

  85. Can be time consuming

  86. It’s about practice

  87. Writing is a habit

  88. Doesn’t happen overnight

  89. Writer's block is a setback

  90. Thank you!