How to break writer’s block – Part 2

Are you curious how our writer did on her writer’s block problem? Yesterday, I posted a blog entry on a writer (whom I’ll call “Jay”) facing writer’s block and impending deadlines.

Today, I checked in with Jay and learned the first draft went out to a first reviewer, at a whoppin’ 1,300 word count! Yeah, I’d say the block was broken.

jay's mindmap

jay's mindmap

Jay appreciated the following tips from our brainstorming and mindmapping session. Jay shared that before our session:

“I was overwhelmed on what was important and where to start. During our session, I was able to spit out a lot of topics and then organize afterwards…By seeing the topics in front of me instead of floating around in my head…it made it easier to focus and prioritize the information.”

So, stay tuned for a follow-up post on Jay’s final production piece, as the deadline to production approaches.

How to break writer’s block – Part 1

A fellow writer just mentioned getting stuck in writer’s block. It happens to all of us. So, I spent 10 minutes helping the writer (whom I’ll call “Jay”) overcome writer’s block. How?

I had Jay list the obstacles on sticky notes. “What is keeping me from crossing that divide between here and the finished product?”

why Jay's stuck

why Jay's stuck

Once Jay saw them written, he/she either (a) knew that it was real and had a plan to overcome it or (b) realized it wasn’t a real obstacle after all.

With that out of the way, I had Jay mindmap the written project. In ten minutes, we had an outline of four key points and the four solutions, an intro, and an ending.

Jay had been stuck on the headline. So we put “headline” as a mindmap topic and left it blank for now.

I’ll write a follow-up post on Jay’s progress in a few days. Stay tuned.

Get with the program

I am not an athlete. I’m a nerd. In elementary school, I failed the President’s Physical Fitness Test. In high school, the most time I spent on a court or field was in the stands, playing with the pep band. In my job as a technical communicator at VSP, the heaviest lifting I do involves right-clicking …
Thus, blending a bit of my work with my personal story on health and wellness with my passion for writing, I encourage you to read my post on “Get with the program.”


(updated 6/2009 with new link to Grammar Girl’s podcast)
Have you noticed how complicated the world can be? Tired of reading legalese? Confused by complex tools crammed with complicated directions to confound you and stake claim to your cranium?

It’s time to do your part. Learn to simplify what others read. Think Readability. Simplicity. Clarity.

Start with Grammar Girl’s post of Adam Friedman’s “Simplify Your Writing.” As author of “The Party of the First Part”, he knows the topic. (And, I just love Mignon Fogarty’s podcasts!)

GeeWhiz blog hits 5,000 visitor milestone

before.jpgAll right, which one of you did it? Who among you readers chanced upon my blog at just the right moment and sent my blog count past the 5,000 visitor milestone? Please leave me a comment and I’ll send you a valuable prize, an old-logo company keychain.
From January 2004 to now, the blog has managed to interrupt a few people a day with a few insights on simplicity, writing, design, creativity, blogging and a slew of other categories.
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Time to pick up my pace in the blogging race

If my regular readers (all two of them) have wondered why my blogging pace slowed down, I have a few reasons. Most of it stems from my perfectionism, which is a blessing and a curse.

Virginia Tech Citizen Journalism

As a professional communicator, I studied Monday’s Virginia Tech tragedy from several levels. More than any other news event, I noticed how it was broadcast off-network, on nontraditional channels, evidence of our new age of social networking. Students, faculty, parents, and alumni used Facebook, blogs, and digital repositories to post updates reporting that they were all right. Eyewitnesses used camera-phones to report from inside.

Where many lacked journalistic professionalism, they excelled in Continue reading

GeeWhiz – featured blog of the day…uh…minute!

You knew that WordPress displays a “featured blog of the day” on their home page, right? Sunday I logged onto WordPress to discover, to my surprise, the prominent (but fleeting) positioning of my blog as WordPress’ “blog of the day!”

But, was my writer ego to be stroked? No, on two counts:
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10 ways to be an email rookie

This is going back in time to a post on JWebb’s LoveYourUsers blog, where she had posted a cleverly-written piece about her love-hate relationship with email.

It reminded me of a mindmap I generated after receiving yet another junk email… Continue reading

the ABCs of clear communication just got a “D”

I hate reading something that is inaccurate, wordy, and confusing. Any one of those three writing flaws would make me squirm. Combine all three in one written piece, and I am ready to come out of my skin.
So, when I first began technical writing, a group of technical communicators and I brainstormed the ABCs of technical writing.

Recently I added the “D.”

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You Know You’re a Technical Communicator when…

Questions posted on a whiteboard in a high traffic area at work intentionally stimulate discussion and whiteboard posting from passing coworkers.

Recently, the whiteboard displayed the following statement:

You know you’re a technical communicator when…

Check out these technical writer responses: Continue reading

The Two Most Important Words in Blogging

You want your audience to read your blog (duh).

Because you don't want your blogging to go unread, be sure to include the two most important words, eloquently summarized in the copyblogger's post:

The Two Most Important Words in Blogging | Copyblogger