Happy New Year, I have Writer's Block

I don't really go in for New Year's Resolutions, but I had promised myself to blog more often in 2009.  It looks like I've already gotten to a bad start this year as it is already 11 days in and this is only my second post.  I really couldn't find anything interesting to talk about and so I've gotten into a kind of writer's block.  Each time I opened OneNote to write anything down I'd end up within a few minutes doing something idle like browsing Wikipedia, Indeed even while doing this post I've already gone off on a Wikipedia tangent.

After mentioning this on Twitter, one of the friendly guys that is following me suggested I do a post on Writers Block.  It is an interesting idea and surely in the age of personal publishing there must be a few people out there suffering from the same problem?  And surely in aforementioned age someone else has decided to blog about it? A quick visit to the search engine gods show that "yes, it has been mentioned, blogged and dissected in detail".  Here are a few that I foudn useful :


What I will do is quickly detail the ways to overcome writer's block.  There are an almost endless number of suggestions out there, but here are the few more helpful that I found across various postings:

  1. Mention your block to someone else.  Being challenged instantly jogged my mind.
  2. Take a break.  Spend some time with the family, play a game, listen to music or watch a movie.  If you are reading this this there is a good chance you work too much, stop working and take a break!
  3. Exercise.  This one could be a little painful for some technical people like me, but getting oxygen into the brain surely can't be a bad thing.
  4. Write down your ideas.  I know I get a few ideas, especially late at night trying to get to sleep, but I never ever write these down.  I am going to start keeping a notepad next to the bed.  I would advise against keeping a notebook next to the bed for instantly blogging your ideas, they can make a little less sense in the light of day.
  5. Case Studies and Interviews.  These can be an easy way to get content out quickly that will interest other people, especially outside of your regular readers.
  6. HitTail.  This is my favourite as it is a technical solution to a non-technical problem.  HitTail analyses your blog content and may give you an indication on what other topics you could cover. 
  7. Write something, write anything.  Automatic Writing, Free Writing and Mind Writing are all well documented.  This may get you out of your block, but you could also end up writing about something you have no desire publishing.   As a technical writer, this particular step could be less useful.

I also took a different tack on this, one of my colleagues mentioned to me that just because a concept was elementary to me did not mean it was not worth blogging about or documenting.  After giving this some thought I realised it could spawn a whole series of topics for me to cover including some of the following:

  • Configuring Site Collections, Web Applications and SSPs.  This stuff has been covered before by many people, but this does not mean it is not worth covering again, and perhaps with some of my own practices that we have found to work best in our environment.  Note how I cunningly avoided putting the words best and practices next to each other.
  • Configuring Excel Services, Search, Profile Importing within an SSP.  I've put this on its own bullet as I think that from a beginner's point of view these topics could all stand a bit more coverage.
  • Reporting on the various Licenses used in your SharePoint Installations.  This is a difficult one, and I'm still trying to work out how to automate this process.  Once I figure this out it will be a decent post.
  • Configuring CRM4 to disable the "Add Multiple Users" feature which can be considered a security flaw in a multi-tenanted Internet Facing Deployment.
  • Using ISA 2006 to secure HostHeader based Windows Sharepoint Services Sites with their own SSL certificates.

These are a few of the ideas that I have decided to cover in the coming weeks, and I would welcome any comments on those ideas. Hopefully by using a few of the tips above, and picking one of those ideas I will be punching out a new post in no time.


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