Unblocking The Block Editor

A Blockade

If you are a blogger on WordPress, then I’m sure you noticed that well over a year ago, this new thing called the Block Editor arrived. So began the push against the old-school, I mean ‘classic’, editor. I resisted; you probably did too. But I knew it was futile, like telling the Borg to leave you alone. So here I am, being assimilated to the blocks.

Word Blockage

Blocks are fundamentally awesome. Because Lego! By their nature, blocks are for building things, like a website or, maybe, a blog post. But bloggers are not builders, they’re writers. Right? We pour words into a draft. Then we edit them. We don’t edit blocks. Except, I guess, now we do.

In late 2018, when I checked out the shiny new editor of the blocks, I thought it was interesting, but I did not see its potential. I just thought it made plain writing harder. Like, everyone knows Writer’s Block is not a good thing. That’s why we writers like a distraction-free blank canvas to allow for maximum word outflow.

Now in early 2020, I started refreshing my blog theme. Besides writing only articles, I decided to try adding shorter blurbs called “Asides.” This was a bit of change to my blogging workflow, so while I was at it, when I opened the editor and it asked me to convert to the new blocky one, I figured it was time to get on that train. It was an avalanche of change.

The Unblocking

Once I made the mental shift towards accepting the Block Editor, then it was simply a matter of time and attention to learning and practicing it. A key issue I had to resolve first was whether or not I could still use my normal writing workflow…without being blocked. (I prefer intentional puns.) To my relief, yes, I could!

In a nutshell, I write all my article drafts in Google Docs, then I upload directly to my blog using the WordPress Add-on. It looks like this:

Google Docs Add On

I’m happy to report that this great Add-on works with the Block Editor. By some tecno-wizardry that would make Gandalf proud, my Google Doc Draft Template gets converted to all the blocky things. It just works! (Knocks on wood, crosses fingers, and prays.)

The ABC’s Of Blocking

What about all those blocks? Why are there so many? What do they all do? What’s with all the new buttons? How does it all work?

Hold on, change is hard, but it’s okay.

First, you must embrace the fact that the Block Editor is going to steamroll you sooner or later; it is inevitable! Once that melodrama eases up, then you may begin playing with the blocks like you’ve got a pile of Lego. Let your imagination and creativity go with it. Just start snapping the basic blocks together. Set aside time to do this; you’re gonna wanna focus.

Second, repeat. That’s it! All it takes is a little time and practice. For the most part, when it comes to an actual blog post, you won’t really need a whole buncha fancy blocks anyways. Your bestie will be the Paragraph block. You might also wanna try the Header block. There are a few blocks for writing, and maybe a few for layout, that you’ll want to get familiar with.

Now Blocking. I Mean Blogging.

The Block Editor is not bad. In fact, now I think it’s pretty cool. It does offer more capabilities than before. And yes, more features often means more complexity. Yet it works. I’m still learning all the ins and outs, but I have not run into any block-busters (ok that pun is kinda weak). And recently, WordPress shared some good new info about the creative abilities of the ever-improving Block Editor; I found it helpful.

For straightforward writing, I think the block paradigm is kind of overkill. You really just need a blank page and maybe some text formatting (WYSIWYG) when you’re ready to polish and edit. But for website and blog building, the Block Editor is really good. Maybe over time, I will come to learn how beneficial it is to writing.

Give change a chance.

Are you a Block Editor hold-out like I was? I get it! Have you been assimilated? Me too! Add your comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

10 thoughts on “Unblocking The Block Editor

  1. I was a hold-out, but then ended up using it while writing a post on the iPhone app. I was confused about how each paragraph is a separate block, but it was handy to move the paragraphs around the pictures I posted. Haven’t seen it on the computer yet. Kinda apprehensive about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jason, I found your post when I did a search on the WP Reader for ‘Gutenberg Editor.’

    I first tried the new block editor in January 2019. I hated it. However, I then realised that I had not taken the time to watch or read any tutorials on how to use it or how it worked.

    I set up a post in the draft folder of my blog and happily played with the block editor whenever I could. About a month later, I was happy enough to publish my first post, which had been written using the block editor. I came to realise that the block editor was not hard to use, just different. Now I’d never go back to using the Classic editor, especially given that the block editor has improved so much since it was first launched.

    You’re right. Give change a chance. Most of the complaints I’ve read about the block editor seem to be from those who either have not tried using it or have only used it for about 10 minutes without reading or watching any tutorials. And nobody has to use all the blocks available. Just use the ones that suit you and your blog.

    All the best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Hugh. Glad you’ve adjusted to the blocks. Yeah it just took me time and intent to mentally accept the block editor. I kind of knew it was inevitable. It helps that I write my drafts outside the editor. I still prefer a simple big blank page to get my words in front of me. I do like that the blocks help me when I want some advanced features in a post, like embedding a Tweet.
      Good to hear from you Hugh, nice to meet a fellow blogger and WordPresser! Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, Jason.

        Like you, I also prefer a blank page when drafting a new blog post. I use Grammarly and have had no problems with it. I get all the writing done first and then have fun inserting other blocks to the post.

        Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jason, I had to comment on this because I switched over to the block editor (finally!). I must say I like it. I feel like it allows easier access to certain tools where you need them most. That was a nice advantage I didn’t really pick up on initially.

    I also made the switch because, as like most things, the classic editor will no longer be available much longer. It’s learn or perish! : )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been using the Block Editor almost since it was introduced, but I still need the Classic editor for some things, which argues that it isn’t time to do away with it yet (and once the Classic Editor is gone, I suspect the Classic Block won’t be far behind. These are my main gripes.
    I have to copy and paste any special characters I want from Word – I often open a new Word document to get it up. I’m sure I inserted a special character on WP once, but however I did it seems to have disappeared (unless it was in a Classic block…? Maybe)
    Cutting and pasting is quicker.
    Colour: it seems ridiculous that I have to go through all the rigmarole of copying and pasting the code for my Custom colour into any other block where I want to use it. I’m all for giving us the option of Custom colours, but the meagre selection of colours my theme suggests are all grey, apart from one. Bring back the colour grid from the Classic editor.
    I’ve been serialising a story and have found it impossible to format paragraphs as I want them to indicate a text conversation. I couldn’t see a way to indent them. I thought that the Quote block might fit the bill, but when I went to Preview it was far too big and I see nowhere to change font size. I’m not saying neither of these things are possible, but I havenyet to see how.
    All those different blocks may well include the one I want, but life’s too short to open them all and find out. Especially as the whole shebang is likely to change without warning from one day to the next.
    Does anyone know where to send my feedback to WordPress? All I’ve found so far is a chat box.


    1. Hi Cathy, I bet you’re not the only one with block editor issues, as I imagine others also miss certain features. Some might be available but hard to find. It does take getting used to, and even then it may not offer everything. That’s a bummer.

      I think the general help forum or help center in WordPress might be useful to you. Also, I’ve emailed WP Happiness Engineers and always got good results. I’ve also been helped via the WP Twitter account.

      Liked by 1 person

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