The Blahblahblah Method of Finishing a Document

Ever get stuck on a word, a sentence, a whole paragraph, or more?

Here’s a trick my friend Dede taught me when I was doing training & development work at Disney. It’s what I’ve taken to calling the “Blahblahblah Method.” You’ll know when you need it.

You’re cruising along, writing a script, report, whatever, and then you run into it: temporary writer’s block. You know what came before your sticky section, you know what comes after it, but this one thing won’t coalesce in your literary imagination. So here was what Dede suggested: “Oh, just put in blahblahblah, something about X, move on, and come back to it later.” It worked. It continues to work, ten years later.

The blahblahblah trick is a way of minimizing the screen, so to speak; a way of allowing your subconscious to work in the background. It reduces pressure and stress while you go on to things you know you can write. And writer’s block really isn’t an option in the technical writer’s world. It’s usually when the content gets the nastiest that my writing becomes the simplest. As another friend put it once, “What the heck are you really trying to say, Bart?” Amazing how painful prose can simplify things for the writer. One last thought on this subject from science fiction writer Larry Niven:

If you’ve nothing to say, say it any way you like. Stylistic innovations, contorted story lines or none, exotic or genderless pronouns, internal inconsistencies, the recipe for preparing your lover as a cannibal banquet: feel free. If what you have to say is important and/or difficult to follow, use the simplest language possible. If the reader doesn’t get it then, let it not be your fault.

And there ya go: as a temporary fix, try the blahblahblah method. What the heck, it beats yada yada yada, right?

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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