Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writer's Block at Work

You stare at the screen and the words don't come.

You have been there before--in that uncomfortable place where you are supposed to write something and no words come out.

The phone rings.  You eagerly pick it up.  "How are you?"  the caller asks.

You moan:  "I've got writer's block!"  Your body hunches over the receiver that you cup with one hand, and you moan some more about how hard it is to write.

The caller doesn't say much after that.  It's as if the phrase that means "I have no words" makes other people clam up.  You don't have any words, and people who come into contact with you lose theirs in your company.

Writer's block is not contagious, and it's not as mysterious as the history of its use implies.

Automatically the phrase traditionally refers to writers (and other artistic types) who have been producing words and works that tell something true to people who want or need to know it.  When they stop writing, it's called writer's block.  The reason that's so scary is that their lives are usually built around their art, and when they dry up--having nothing to say--it's not just the works that fade away, they are concerned about the very meaning of their existence. 

At work, the purpose of putting words on paper or the screen is different, and any claim to writer's block has a different association.  It certainly doesn't have the consequences of an implied identity crisis.  It just means you have a problem you need to solve.  That is actually true of most jobs at work, and writing is just one more job.  Perhaps it is your least favorite job.

Some people are just more verbal than others, but everyone who is human must use words to communicate in the workplace.   Falling back on the excuse of writer's block in the workplace is a habit you need to break, because claiming that as the cause of not being able to put words on the screen will not help you to put words on the screen.

Here's what will:

Make sure you know the answer to the question posed of you, because most work documents have a question that is being answered by the writer.  That answer is the purpose of the document being created.

Know the purpose.  Know the question.  Make sure you know the answers.

Eighty percent of the time people in the workplace who claim to have writer's block have this condition instead.  They can't write because they don't know what to write.

Stopping to think through the purpose and find the answer will break that immobility you are calling writer's block.

And don't call it that at work, anyway.

You are supposed to have the answers at work, and using the excuse "I've got writer's block!" gets interpreted by people who have nothing to say to you afterwards as this:  'You don't know what to write, and that's why you aren't writing.'

That may not be the only reason other people go quiet on you, but it's probably one of them.

No comments:

Post a Comment