How To Get Rid of Writer’s Block using Audience, Question, Next Steps.

Over the course of 8 years working in Business Intelligence, Tableau Consulting, Austin SEO Expert and Data Warehousing — it was clear there was no easy way to gather technical requirements from non-technical business users, and almost every new Tableau Desktop user asked me the same question.

“how do i get started when i have writers block?”

Now below is a pretty long read and if you can’t make it through, then you should go read a Quote from Gary V that he didn’t make himself.

Eat that e-thugs. And stop wasting time with authority figures, screw them or never get ahead. You’re only growing their business — they won’t tell you about their niches.

Getting Rid of Writer’s Block and Working Faster

Are you tired of staring at the screen and wondering what to do next? Want to learn how to get over writers block when working a tableau consulting engagement or building content in tableau desktop?

Here’s my methodology.

You’re suffering from Writer’s block — That’s about to change.

Writer’s Block is easy for anyone to defeat.

This method or algorithm of steps — has been the most successful method for lowering failed projects and finishing projects in a timely manner.

We made a writer’s block meme because that’s important.

Writer’s Block Meme That You will Want to Save.

Every good blog has a meme, here’s our Writer’s Block meme! It’s utterly terrible.

Best meme ever never.

If you want to go read from authority figures with writing teams, then go learn from Gary V, Neil P, or those other bullshit kings.

Ignore the bullshitters, I’ve shown this to enterprise companies around the globe.

  • “How do you get started so quickly?”
  • “How long does it take to use Tableau as fast as you?”
  • “How do you come up with new dashboards Ideas quickly?”

Each of these questions piled on the next, and I never had a very good response except, “I’ve just made a lot more mistakes than most users, and I know what not to click on.”

Cure Writer’s Block in a lot of words!

Tons of words because I’ve been doing enterprise solutions for ages, and have taught this as an augmented portion of training to ensure people don’t stink at getting content going, I use Tableau as an example because I’m the #2 Tableau Consultancy ranking on Google.

In less than 4k words, and you will increase your success for any Tableau Consulting engagement, any Tableau Desktop dashboard, or even an email you need to send to your boss.

This is the exact verbiage and content I shared with each client below onsite, and nearly a hundred total.

This blog post is an easy way to conquer digital writing blocks.

It was extremely cool to be able to use these on strategic engagements with Abila, The Nielsen Company, Oncor and Weber Grills.

The Nielsen Company used this strategy, and we were able to nearly double their revenue on a product earning over 100million.

Also, this blog sums up why I never leave home without my dry erase markers, and my wives fancy nail polish.

How To Get Rid of Writer’s Block:

Know your audience, know the questions the audience will ask, and understand what their next steps are.

We break down every step below, to ensure 100% success with this method.

Defeat Writer’s Block and begin completing work, building new revenue, and blogging your heart out!

Solve Writer’s Block with Dev3lop’s Algorithm.

Yeah — I said Nail Polish in this business intelligence blog and how I spice up my Tableau consulting engagements.

Below, I explain a methodology that has kept my clients asking for more and making awesome dashboards.

If you’ve never heard of Tableau Consulting, check this out — What is a Tableau Consultant or What does a Tableau Consultant do?

Understand How To Get Rid of Writer’s Block in 2017

pen.

Learning How To Get Rid of Writer’s Block is as simple as follow four steps. Have a white boarding meeting to discuss what you’re going to build in Tableau Desktop.

Sitting in front of your computer — with a new Tableau Desktop — and very little understanding of how to use the product — will always generate a form of writer’s block.

My Experience solving Writers Block around the Globe!

pen2 lol.

Working with small companies, and even fortune 50 companies have allowed me a rare opportunity.

The chance to see inside of technology before big data was big data, and before Tableau consulting even existed.

After helping and solving lots of client road bumps across a full map of industries — one thing holds true.

Everyone needs to learn how to get rid of writer’s block, and the truth to breaking that writer’s block lives outside of the computer.

Learning the easy way to get rid of writer’s block.

The hard way to find out how to get rid of writer’s block — is to simply push through it and make something of sitting in front of your computer and click a lot. The easy way is to step away from the computer.

The easy way is to step away from the computer and keep it simple.

Dinosaur Logic — Writer’s Block is Only for Writers!

When I first started consulting, I realized I was the visionary on nearly all of the strategic projects, and a lot of adults looked up to me because I had been programming since I was 12. Having the chance to speak to thousands of employees and impact 2.2million over the course of a couple of years — I needed to generate something that generalized the complexities of a product.

Coming into consulting jobs with 10+ years experience more than my peers was a regular position and I enjoyed being the methodology generator.

This particular one I’ve used at nearly 70+ large group training sessions regarding front end products, in this instance I’m utilizing Tableau consulting as an example, but if you’re not using Tableau — just swap it with another business intelligence product.

Get Rid of Writer’s Block using Dev3lop’s Algorithm — What are the requirements?

“Do you know the requirements?” A funny question to ask any tuned in Project Manager — and always a good way to kick-start the conversation.

Have a meeting that isn’t boring, and ask everyone to be ready to help.

Here’s why client’s use Dev3lop instead of large consultancies who will charge your time to learn your environment! We slash through that with some communication skills and meanwhile teach everyone how to avoid writer’s block.

I like to start these meetings with writing ‘no sitting,’ and if they aren’t into that, I hand them some nail polish and say ‘here’s the alternative.’

How To Get Rid of Writer’s Block — Steps To Drive Value

What are the requirements? You need these to majorly avoid writer’s block.

  • Writer’s Block solutions and Dashboards should offer an obvious next step — you need to meet with the report consumer, the data expert, and the business logic owner.
  • Call these your checkboxes!
  • Grab dry erase markers and write them under requirements, anywhere will do, you will want to check those off the list.
  • Plug it in where it fits the crowd.
  • Grab dry erase markers and write down these 3 steps from my methodology!

Write down these words — Audience, Questions, and Next Steps. Say this out loud. I enjoy having the class say it with me. It’s a good way to see who’s going to be your class favorites.

  • Explain each while writing it on the board. Give yourself some space.
  • You can do this on a napkin too!
  1. Audience — Hand this to another person in your meeting, ask them to take part, and don’t let people just sit in this meeting.
  2. Questions — Did you come into this without the slightest clue? No biggy — writer’s block is easy to defeat, start writing up the goals on the whiteboard. No sitting or nails painted.
  3. Next Steps — What are the next steps in Tableau? Do they click a button to open Sales Force? Email a warehouse manager regarding understock products?

What are the requirements — How To Get Rid of Writer’s Block — Pre-Step 1

Hellur thur.

What are the requirements? This question again?

Make a list in excel to get started if you don’t have a whiteboard or paper handy.

Best to point out the project owner, and ask for them to fill in these blanks.

For the sake of the example, when you start bubble back content to sound memorable, tell it like a story, which is exactly what should happen when sharing content across any median.

Don’t be afraid to ask others to go over these steps before submitting them — but these steps below go through a method that I’ve used at every onsite engagement, and I know has contributed to my success as a consultant.

Let us know how this adds value back to your work!

Requirement gather is simple — Keep it Simple to Avoid Writer’s Block

“Let’s keep the requirements simple, and the rest of the tasks will fall into place.”

Help everyone’s nerves when explaining writer’s block steps:

  • Be sure to find a good place to circle back to ‘Keeping it simple.’
  • Find smart places to remind everyone technology is simple and you’re the guide — into an easy day of work.
  • Everyone will always agree to simple, and you’ll see just saying ‘simple’ in most cases will let the room give a nice little sigh of relief. Keep it simple and get your work done, amirite?

While I was working the Florida Department of Revenue engagement, I had two days of non-stop questions regarding data usage surround the Tableau Server Environment, and needless to say — without the whiteboard technique, I would have had a bit of writer’s block myself.

So, when coming in on Wednesday and Thursday — I knew the class was 40–60 employees coming, and I wanted to ensure I kept it fun. I had a list of topics to share.

Keep breaking writer’s block and technology simple.

I’ve seen an entire room brighten up, and lower their shoulders — after mentioning how fun and easy the lesson was going to be.

Audience — How To Get Rid of Writer’s Block Step 1

Now you have your requirements on the board, my favorite was someone sarcastically writing, ‘build an awesome dashboard,’ on the board.

We googled it and laughed at all the 3D charts — at the time it wasn’t the best place for good content!

Make it relatable….

Billy?

I always love to use Bill as an example. I worked a job where I had a Bill as a boss and a Bill as a peer — and both of them are amazing people, so the example was easy to carry during my methodology explanations.

This example gives me a chance to offer two different audience members to consume our content.

Dropping names, dropping Writer’s block, oh snap!

Bill — the executive, wants the blimp view, needs to know what time it is, and the ability to see how the clock works with a single click.

Bill — the peer Tableau Consultant. When I first met Bill, he was casually helping one of the biggest sports car companies in the world, no big deal bill.

Use whatever fits for your customer — I prefer making jokes about myself to lighten the mood and connect with end users, it makes it easier to tell real stories.

Having a ton of experience helps!

Knowing the Audience will help our Writer’s Block

If you don’t know the audience, you will be building a sophisticated dashboard, and there is no other way of looking at it. Just having the data, and no explanation of why or how results in what you think they should see.

Writer’s block help — consulting external vs. consulting internally.

More stuff.

Some tableau consulting companies are founded on the principal of grabbing ‘some data’ and just building stuff. is a good

This Is a product feature — not a scalable solution. Is a good

Tableau Desktop is the best for ad-hoc reporting, but just making chart junk, is junk! Make sure to add value, huge value, and not just the ‘story you wanted to tell.’

Internal Facing Writer’s block — I know the data.

And if you’re an internal facing user of Tableau Desktop — staring at the screen or resorting to ‘that chart you make excellent,’ may not be the hammer for this dashboard.

Have you ever google awesome dashboard? Looking to find some inspiration regarding your chart?

When you start going that direction for ‘what to make, VS making it pop,’ then it’s best to re-roll and have a quick end user meeting!

End user sessions avoid Writer’s block — We have 100% success with our clients — I promise this method works.

Be sure that every dashboard has a documented set of rules, and the first rule is who the hell is using it!

#1 — AUDIENCE. And write that on the board — and start writing the players

Yeah, I grabbed images from pexels, who cares.

Questions — How To Get Rid of Writer’s Block Step 2

What questions will the audience ask? What’s important to them? Let’s stop saying it and start writing it.

At the end of this meeting, you should have plenty of questions they end user is asking for their data.

Most of the time, if they are a director or executive level, it may be challenging to get time on their plate.

If you have any experience running successful projects — you already know that you need to set an expectation that they may not like what they see.

Tableau Developer Tip: We find it’s easy to set that expectation with everyone, but if project leads keep that layer to themselves, do not expect a successful project.

Tableau Writer’s Block — Start with Documentation!

At least don’t suffer from documentation block — that’s Shadow IT work at it’s finest.

Yep a clipboard.

My hands are exhausted from having to be the documentation master when solutions fail.

We need to be able to document what questions the product is looking to answer.

Otherwise, there’s no accountability to what needs to be accomplished — it’s impossible to charge a customer for hours if they have not explained what they need.

Bringing a team of supporting members together if the end users are not accessible will be the best alternative.

At least one hour per dashboard. If you can go faster than that, hi5, you win.

Keep the product champion on the whiteboard — they need to build this story!

Write Questions next to audience — otherwise, you can’t tie it all together! And it’s not going to be simple. Let me find that nail polish.

Documentation is everything when following our Writer’s Block algorithm.

Why does this kid say algorithm? We’ve got you, brother or sister! Thanks for the feedback from my rough draft edit to add this. Thanks for the help!

Be a slave to documentation, and you will be able to manage your work in the future like a business professional. Otherwise, no one will want to work with you.

If you’re relying on emails and word of mouth in 2017 as your project goals, you will fail a ton of projects and be working a lot of free hours to ensure they do not blow up.

I’ve seen consultancies work for free as much as they bill customers because of inadequate documentation surrounding what questions the end users need vs. want from the data source.

Just put — expectations regarding your work as a writer or Tableau Jedi need to be made clear, and why not throw it in Google Sheets? Now it’s editable.

Questions are important to write out logically.

Business users need to see everything in text form. Even the best programmers I know write down the logic in a text document or a white board before opening their coding apps.

So I ask the audience, okay we have our Bill’s now let’s give them some pills. Joking, of course, the blue pill and green pill are two objects in Tableau.Bill needs to see a blimp view.

“Bill needs to see a blimp view.” I’ve heard at least 20 people say these exact words.

Use your Bill when Defeating Writer’s Block

It’s easier to give your audience a character VS writing CIO of AT&T, which I’ve thrown on this methodology before.

Also, if the boss is in the room, it’s easier to have a gag, Bill.

“But Tyler, Bill is in the room,” Okay, use my wives dog’s name, Charlie. I hope you use your real life character and this will help you with your public speaking too.

I repeat back to the audience their statement plus another hammer, a percent different month over month. What’s your favorite stick or hammer? Viz Swapper? Some SQL, an expert, taught you?

Writer’s Block Stops when you Write Questions On the Board!

Especially for Tableau — this is where I start saying words like, “Perfect you want to see the region,” and then I point to the DBA, who chose to sit down and is painting his nails.

“What database has Region?” Then your write down the database name over to the side.

“What Table has a region in it?” Then your write down the database table name right next to the question. Easy enough!

What type of chart would work well here? That’s what you need to ask your audience or supporting teammates.

Write down what people say. Then ask — What goes in these charts?

“Bill wants to see hours billed per consultant,” someone across the room says.

Writer’s block resolved with a team meeting. Brilliant.

Always lean on the team if you’re not the logic expert and leave everything open for others to help out.

I don’t like the term ‘picking on people in the room,’ rather I enjoy finding where everyone’s strengths are. Be sure to diversify who is helping answer the questions.

Find Measure Values in the Meeting to lower Writer’s block afterward.

“It’s so easy; we will draw the graph with an X and Y axis here. What goes on X and what’s Y?”

Here are some free shapes to use in powerpoint. Don’t go complex, keep this simple, or requirements will get confusing.

Getting Rid of Writer’s block by getting visual! How many filters do they want? How are they using this?

Ask how many clicks drill down, and how many filters. Write everything down.

Draw lines on the board, and ask the data expert where it comes from and knows this is what they want to see!

Projects getting done and they are involved.

Once you’ve drawn out what goes on the charts, region, state, employeeID, etc.

Not sure what they are aggregating? Ask, or writer’s block is sure to take hold of your project!

Data projects are nearly all identical, I’ve solved a data problem on every database, and the most import concept is aggregation.

It takes the longest to hear what everyone wants because no one understands how to use the product yet. This is where POC rushes beyond data solutions, and everyone spends thousands of dollars worth of time on a rushed dashboard.

That’s why a meeting with end users helps a ton, and you can quickly jump into a meeting with everyone, and whiteboard or build something on Google Slides. It’s free, and everyone can click on it, make edits, and create content.

Figure out what they are aggregating. Aggregating is the key of business intelligence suites and not it’s not who can build a default chart in fixed layouts.

‘Okay, where does this measure come from in the data environment? Profit? Sales? Where is everything?’ I like tossing out a few examples to see what the room stirs up.

Say words like data environment, that tickles everyone’s ears.

Next Steps — Conquer writer’s block.

‘Where the rubber meets the road!’ What is the purpose of using this dashboard, reading this poem, or writing this blog post?

Content is content and to build content you need a plan. I was overwhelmed with the question of ‘how do you create dashboards so quickly,’ and ‘what are the best practices for building a dashboard.’

Too often that is written by a writing team for 4–5months, editors toy with it for 2months, and by the time it comes out, the product is different, and the writing is moot.

I felt if I was going to be going onsite every week or two weeks, to a new enterprise company, installing Tableau Server and explaining Tableau desktop usage.

I needed an easy way to help everyone instantly build value in their content.

So, I made it similar to how I solve problems, I develop a logical algorithm and create relation-able or user-friendly topics inside of the material. This thing write’s itself in front of the right crowd.

From my friend who did the 2nd rough draft: “What did you just say? Did you just make up the word relation-able? Did you mean relatable?

Yes, but who doesn’t make up words in their methodology? The Wiki is publicly editable after all. Let’s move on! 🙂

Next Steps — Draw the environment

Visually explain next steps — what do they want to do after seeing this chart, and this chart, and that chart.

This is where I see even the biggest companies forget.

If the end user has to leave the software, and do something else, where is the value add?

Alternative — “Writer’s block comes from a documented list of requirements.” says the reader.

Tableau Developer Tip: That sucks, did you make the conditions? I’ve often avoided these types of customer engagements. It’s okay to decline a meeting; you’re the expert.

Whenever I feel there’s no way of getting the right information regarding the Audience, Questions, and Next step methodology — then I know writer’s block, and mixed opinions will be a slayer of time.

It’s tough to add value to a documented list of requirements, and it’s even worse if it’s all in a text document without a visual explanation.

The heavily documented material works for some, but drawing next steps from a list of requests can make the generation of the content a bit of a droning process.

It’s important to have a pass off from your work — will be the difference between adoption and becoming another report.

Build amazing content, make the next awesome dashboard!

Tableau Developer Tip: Just take a picture of what you build on a whiteboard — send it to the team — and now everyone is accountable for the material.

Related


Originally published at dev3lop.com on June 28, 2017.