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How to beat technical writer's block

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Carl Alexander

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We see our developer peers write wonderful articles

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“Maybe I should do the same?”

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Obstacle: Writer’s block

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“What do I write about?”

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“This is ”

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Happens to both new and experienced writers

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Makes us want to stop writing

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Warning: Not going to talk about goals

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What to write about?

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Most frustrating thing about writer’s block

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A lot of sources of material for technical writing

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We just don’t think about them that way

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A problem that you faced

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

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Others are probably looking for answers just like you were

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Why not write about it!?

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Easier to write about

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Better able to empathize

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Something you’re working on

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A lot of us have side projects

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Write about them!

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Tried a new technology?

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Used a new concept?

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Can't always to try new things at work

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Talk about a concept or technology in the wild

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Serious effort implementing things

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Discuss what went well and what didn't

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Interesting to other developers

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Valuable when evaluating things for a project

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Answer questions

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Everyone is asking questions

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Pick one and write about it

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How I wrote my first article

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Where can you find questions to answer?

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Things you wish people knew about

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Why I started writing

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“I feel people should know about this”

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“I can’t find anything on it”

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Not a topic

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Not for developers without a computer science background

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Write for your past self

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Your writing process

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As important as where you get your topic ideas

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Developing a regular writing habit

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Don’t wait for inspiration to “hit you”

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Try to write every day

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Doesn’t matter if it’s not great

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About getting used to the idea of writing something

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It doesn't matter how much you write

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We feel that we have to write a lot every time we try to write

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Experiment with your writing habit

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Specific time of the day

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Amount of time per day

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Number of words per day

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How this played out for me

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On writing slowly

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Benefits to writing slowly

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Writing is about putting our thoughts into words

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It’s a thinking exercise

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

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Writing slowly gives you time to think

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Can take a long time to write

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Other things to keep in mind

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Not specific to dealing with writer's block

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Other ways to solve problems

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Tempting to say this is “the way” to solve a problem

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Something that worked for you and might work for others

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Like this talk

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You don't know everything

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Limits to our knowledge

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Be honest about what you know

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

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Do your best not to be wrong

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Try to overcome the limits of your knowledge

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Fact check yourself

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Working proof of concept

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Can be time consuming

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It’s about practice

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Writing is a habit

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Doesn’t happen overnight

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Writer's block is a setback

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Thank you!