Superstitions of a Technical Writer

Bradley Nice
4 min readJan 13, 2023

by Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp — all-in-one help authoring tool

It’s Friday the 13ths, and it came up to me that subconsciously I feel worried on this day. You see, according to superstitions, this is the day that bad things happen. We all know not to walk under a ladder or break a mirror. And black cats are bringers of misfortune if they happen to cross your path. Superstitions linger, even in places you may not expect.

It turns out that there are some widespread superstitions among technical writers, and they can affect the way you write. For example, if a writer keeps their dictionary nearby while working on a document, they risk using a word that’s considered unlucky in their project. Here is a list of some of the most common superstitions and technical writer pitfalls to avoid at all costs.

  1. Cross your t’s and dot your i’s. This popular superstition goes all the way back to the 17th century. Basically, it means that you should ensure that everything is spelled correctly when you write a document.
  2. Never pick up a pen when the moon is full. Okay, this one is a little weird. Apparently, if you do this, you’re asking for trouble in your writing career. I guess it makes sense that you shouldn’t pick up your pen on a full night because it would be hard to find inspiration to write in that dark room.
  3. Don’t use red ink or black paper to write your document. Wait…what?! That’s right! Many superstitious people believe that red and black ink are symbols of death. They’re also thought to bring bad luck to whoever uses them. Luckily, we live in a modern world and write our documents on a computer now, so we shouldn’t worry about this superstition anymore.
  4. Use the Rule of Three when writing. This rule says you should never start sentences with three consecutive nouns or verbs. It might seem silly, but it can actually help you create a more professional-sounding document.
  5. Avoid mirrors while writing. We’ve all heard that looking in the mirror is associated with vanity and narcissism, but did you know that it’s also considered bad luck? Mirrors are also thought to be portals to the Otherworld, which can send negative energies into your workplace.
  6. Never cross your legs when sitting at a desk. Crossing your legs while you sit at your desk might cause stiffness in your legs and lead to discomfort in the long run. Nothing superstitious, just physiology.
  7. Always keep your desk clean to avoid bad energy. You might not believe it, but it’s true! Your workspace should be as neat and tidy as possible to help you focus on the important stuff and avoid distractions. It’s just practical.
  8. Dress for success. Studies have shown that how you dress can affect your performance at work, so you should dress accordingly. A friend of mine has a lucky writing sweater, for instance.
  9. Put on a specific writing music playlist because it evokes the right mood. For example, if you’re writing about an upcoming trip or a big event, listening to music about traveling or new experiences will help you focus and get the creative juices flowing.

I think superstitions can have power, but only what we give them through our beliefs. So…why not take that power and use it to have faith in ourselves and our work? Of course, this is easier said than done, sometimes, depending on our level of existing confidence. Turn your superstitions into a pleasant ritual that helps you concentrate and focus, and use it to your advantage to achieve your goals.

I have an old chair I have used for years — the chair I have sat since the start of my career. Of course, I replaced it with a new chair, which is working fine. But that old chair is still with me. I keep it in the basement just in case a prolonged block hits me. Do you have any pre-writing habits or superstitions?

Have a nice day!

Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp.com — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors

--

--

Bradley Nice

Content Manager at https://medium.com/level-up-web 👈. I write about web design, web development and technical writing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook