I'm really struggling with and , if anybody has stumbled upon an extended writing block (I assume most people who write have at some point) I'd love to read about their experiences and how they transcended that situation, incorporating writing as a healthy habit, abolishing the vicarious struggle against a blank page.

Any pointers and suggestions are welcome. Thank you.

@h I'm not much of a writer (especially starting with a blank page), and actually find editing much easier, so when I want/need to write something it helps if I start putting some things down, even if it's just a list of topics and keywords, braindumped ideas, and some small relevant tidbits copy/pasted from Wikipedia or wherever. And then I start expanding/editing those things, adding context and glue to make it flow, etc...

@mayel I kinda have that, plenty of scattered bits, but no habit or method to put them together.

@h Writer's block, in my experience, is about not having enough inputs. Read more!

@dajbelshaw In my case, that's not the case :-) But thanks for the suggestion.

@h OK, I have lots more tips, but here's just three:

1. Write the second paragraph first.
2. Write it in someone else's voice.
3. Use voice-to-text (it's a completely different experience)


@dajbelshaw Now we're talking, heheh. I'll try that, see how that works. Thank you.

@h I used to write. I like to tell stories. I like to share knowledge.

When I write I don't use it as a way I tell something to someone. I'm telling something to myself. I'm reinforcing my own knowledge (and often I'm threatening it and making me think about it again).

When I consider writing something like that it helps me with the motivational part.

When I have problems with the starting point I talk with myself about the idea until I find a good way to represent it. It's like discussing.

@ekaitz_zarraga I like to share knowledge. I'm not a natural-born storyteller.

It's a handicap, i may never become a complete author, but I believe I can make up for it making a good logical case following a more methodical approach, and borrowing from my experience with visual media. I'm a lot better at using images to tell stories, I need to find out how to translate that into words on a written page.

Thanks for the tips.

@h you can bring some images to the table, create a map from that and then start writing.
That would help you organize your ideas and introduce some context.

First images, second words.

Just describe the landscape what you see.

@ekaitz_zarraga Interesting you bring that up.
I'm taking a look at Scapple, a twin tool of sorts made by the same guys who develop Scrivener.

Free alternatives to Scrapple may help. We'll see.


When I am struggling to finish writing something for public consumption, it helps to write something on the same topic that will be for my eyes only.

Try writing by hand on paper. Or try using a piece of software you won't use for the finished product. (I finish things in LibreOffice or Word. I often start in Emacs.)

Try getting an idea out of your head without worrying about style or grammar. Outline or use incomplete sentences.


If you don't know what you want to say, try writing something about why you don't know what you want to say.

@ejworthing I'm already doing a lot of raw idea collection in plain text (vim here, though :-)
I also use LibreOffice, and I'm exploring alternatives to Scrivener that were suggested by @mayel.

Writing on paper has helped to some degree (for fiction, mainly), but it's also incredibly slow when you're at your maximum productivity.

I'll be trying more braindumps, but so far that has only resulted in a greater number of scattered bits, and no actual writing.

Thanks for your help anyway.

@h @mayel

I only write nonfiction. Fiction writing sounds like a different process.

For me, scattered bits are sometimes a necessary first step.

@ejworthing @mayel That's understood. Part of the trouble I'm having is precisely bridging the two aspects. Too many scattered bits, and no bridge between them and the island of actually writing.

It seems as if I need an intermediate form, like a loose structure in the way @ekaitz_zarraga@mastodon.socia suggested, or something that I may be exploring with Scapple (and/or its free alternatives)

@h Why are you writing? Are you blogging because you have a blog?

@scribe I am attempting to do a few things.

1) Blog about work in progress of an ongoing software development project.

2) Document said software

3) Write a longer form work, possibly a book, explaining a longer term vision, of which this software is the foundational stone.

@h Most of my writing is unpublished, in a single .md file. I don't consider it fit for publication; it's for personal reflection.

I recently wrote a eulogy for my grandmother, which was a different experience because of the well-defined audience. That produced a very different motivation and set of standards relative to writing a blog post or personal journal entry. I still did my usual analytical thing, but it was easier.

My guess: an anonymous audience cannot be satisfied.

@kdsch Is this personal anecdote illustrative of something else you're trying to say?

Like, I should define what's my audience?

If that's the case, I kinda did that here, describing the writing formats I intend to deliver.


@h I'm missing how the writing format defines the audience. You might be writing a blog and a book, but what can you say about readers? What do they know? What do they want to hear? Does the software solve a problem of theirs?

@kdsch Well, it does. A technical manual is for technically oriented people. A blog is for casual reading. A book is for people more interested in the theory and the thought process behind the whole thing.

@kdsch If I were to define an audience in the terms you propose, the audience wouldn't be well-served.

Some are people interested in hypermedia matters, scholars and practitioners from a broad spectrum of philosophies. Some of them are politically inclined towards the politically social libertarian side of things. A few are capitalists. Some are casual readers infatuated with the www. Some are p2p people. Some aren't.

The "segmentation" of "my market" doesn't work that way.

@kdsch Not that I see it that way, at least.

In literary theory we sometimes talk about the ideal reader.
Which means, in this context that the author, you, would have, in the back of his mind, a reader that may not exist, but has some of these attributes you mentioned above, and the others would be more incidental. The more you go towards a how-to, or utilitarian writing, the more this "ideal reader" is undefined, other than by his or her previous knowledge.

@perig Yes, I mean, I know I can segment readers by the circumstantial intent and depth of involvement with the subject matter. But not much grouping them by things like "what do they want to hear" or "things they are looking for". There is no such thing at this time.

I am in a similar situation. (BTW, I am also working on new types of web visualization (but I'm stuck for technical reasons)).

There's an aspect that is important for me, in this "ideal reader" concept, that I haven't mentioned, because it is more intimate and emotional. The "ideal reader" as I picture it is a the person who would have the most interest, charity, openness to your discourse. Having this ideal reader in your mind serves as an utopian "best case scenario" or mirror revealing what you really stand for. Like an asymptote of the actual responses you hope get.

So your point (i. e about "what do they want to hear" or "things they are looking for") is well taken. When you have an idea of this, the text is practically written already. What speaks to the writer's block syndrome, IMHO, is more this experience than you can't speak because there's no one, on an existential level, to speak to. That's my impression anyways.
That's probably the kind of thing @kdsch had in mind when he mentioned the eulogy. That's a good depiction of the "ideal reader" as unreachable, idealized, with other, real people, acting as proxies to this ideal reader.

@perig @kdsch I see your point. I'm not sure that's the case in my case (a handful of them do exist, but they have nothing in common between them) but it's something I'm going to sleep on, to find out what's really going on.

I appreciate your time, guys, I'll ponder on this further.

Thank you for bringing up important topics.
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