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How to Fight "Designer's Block"

December 29, 2016

You’re having a bad day, and you don’t know how to begin writing the narration script for your next course. After all, it’s one of the first steps in creating a well-designed program. You know the content outline by heart and all the materials are sitting in front of you, but the words just aren’t flowing. Well, then, you’ve got “designer’s block” (also known as writer’s block for the instructional designerr).

 

If you can rule out physical issues such as fatigue, stress or hunger, designer’s block may be a sign that you haven’t gathered enough content or your ideas just haven’t gelled. If that’s the case, do research to find more information until you’re confident to begin writing. Examine the learning objectives (which you should have before starting the script) and think about each one.

 

Sometimes, designer’s block is the fear that you won’t be able to do a good job. This feeling of dread can last a few minutes, a few days or longer. If this is the case, there are many techniques you can try. First, don’t panic; that’ll only make it worse. Just relax. Take a break if you need it. Turn to another project for a while, then return to the script again.

 

Or use the Think, Speak and Write approach. That is, think about what you want to say, then get your digital recorder out (or turn on the text-to-speech application on your computer) and start recording. Imagine that you’re training someone who is sitting in your office at that moment. Liven it up by using the voice of a narrator speaking in character. There’s no need to be tense. Then transcribe your recording or clean up the text on your Word document. Turn that into a detailed working outline that is in proper order and makes sense.

 

But if you can’t say what you think, just say anything—anything at all—and try to nudge yourself to talk about the content you’ll need to write about. Try this until the words start to flow in the direction you want them to travel. It doesn’t matter if every word is perfect. When you’re satisfied that you don’t need to continue using this technique, start writing naturally.

 

Finally, if you realize beforehand that you’ll be spending a lot more time planning than writing and revising than writing, you don’t have to create a great—or even good—first draft of your script. Don’t expect or plan for greatness; instead, just plan for mediocrity. Later on, let the revising process take it into greatness. If you begin with that thought in mind, designer’s block will be a thing of the past.

 

 

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