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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Not Writing is Not Necessarily Writer's Block in the Workplace

Do you frequently claim to have writer’s block when you have a business document to write and can’t get started?

Most likely you don’t have the traditional case of writer’s block.

Your condition is actually worse.

You don’t know what you need to write and so you can’t write.   That explanation is different from the classic use of the term “writer’s block” which refers to artistic-driven writers who have a vision of truth and beauty to translate into a story or some other creative medium.

Business writers do not suffer from that kind of writer’s block.  They suffer from “I don’t know what to write so I can’t write.”

Knowing the difference matters. 

Knowing that you don’t have some kind of artistic excuse that lets you off the hook of creating a document means that you don’t have an excuse not to do your job.  Not liking to write is not an excuse either.

If you also mutter, “I’m not a good writer” that might well be the truth. However, humility and the excuse that you are not comfortable at writing in the workplace will not get you a raise or a promotion.  It means that you are pointing out a deficiency in yourself before others point it out to you.  That's fine as long as you are planning to fix the problem and you can. 

Unlike artistic endeavors that emerge from creative visions business writing is a skill that all thinking people in the workplace can learn.  The impediment to learning is a disbelief that it can be learned or that you must have some inherent talent for writing that makes business writing possible.  Not true. Like any skill, writing business communications can be developed and perfected if you are willing to make a commitment to it.  Making excuses is not the beginning of finding that solution.

Not being a good writer of business documents is a condition only you can change but you have to commit yourself to working hard to do that and you have to give up making excuses that are not the truth of why you can’t produce that document.

Giving up excuses is as difficult an activity as giving up worrying, which some people do when they think they are solving a problem. “I’ve been worrying about that for days” is another explanation people offer for not producing a business document.  That, too, is not the same activity as solving a problem.

How do you solve the problem immediately with an eye on the longer-term problem of becoming a more confident business writer?

In the short-term, ask the exact question that needs to be answered in the business document.
Then, using that question, restate it as a sentence and that becomes the beginning of your document.  Add the points of your reasoning after that.  Then, create a summary that synthesizes the main idea and why what you have offered as proof makes your argument authentic.  That is called your conclusion.

In the long-term, to become a stronger business writer listen to yourself when you talk about your productivity as a creator of workplace writing. What do you hear yourself saying?

Do you complain about it a great deal?  What is really behind that complaining?

Are you lazy, ignorant or psychologically bruised from English classes where a teacher hurt your self esteem by telling you that you can’t make your subjects and verbs match?

Do you suffer from low self esteem about writing and blame others for being unable to write?
Stop that.

If you are of an age to hold a job or have graduated from high school or college you are of an age to be accountable for what you think when you write those ideas down for others.
Often, being accountable for what you think is the real complaint behind complaining.
Not knowing the answer is the other reason.

Then, and finally, you are afraid to proofread your work and turn it in because of the number of errors that you will see that will cause you to be more fearful about how others will see your work.
Only you can solve those problems.  Only you can become accountable for your ideas on the page or screen. Only you can learn how to write complete sentences using precise language and adequate punctuation to make reading your work easy for the reader, which is one of the main goals of every writer whether of artistic temperament or in the workplace.

The next time you are asked to produce a workplace document and you offer writer’s block as an excuse, think again. Then, sit down and produce the document that answers the question the business document should exist to explain because writer’s block is not a valid excuse in the workplace.

1 comment:

  1. I've never done this myself, but it is a little pet peeve of mine. I can't stand hearing excuses like this. -Jessica Manasco