3 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Technical Writing Skills
Writing online has become a super valuable skill, especially for software engineers.
The pandemic has accelerated the shift in remote work. Therefore, writing online has become even more crucial.
Also, the higher you go in the software engineering career path, the more your writing skills will matter.
In August 2021, I started this blog, and the journey so far has been incredible, and I want to share with you how you can become a better technical writer.
1. Write consistently
To become better at everything, you need to practice, practice, and practice.
There is no other shortcut.
My first articles were terrible. They had almost no images, boring headlines, and never-ending paragraphs. But I've never given up.
I've kept on writing and reading from people who write better than me!
When people ask me for advice on blogging, I always respond with yet another form of the same advice: pick a schedule you can live with, and stick to it. Until you do that, none of the other advice I could give you will matter. I don't care if you suck at writing. I don't care if nobody reads your blog. I don't care if you have nothing interesting to say. If you can demonstrate a willingness to write, and a desire to keep continually improving your writing, you will eventually be successful.
To write consistently, you'll have to find a schedule that works solely for you.
If you genuinely care about achieving writing success, you'll not only find the time. You will create it, and it will become part of your routine.
2. Follow the "Publish, Learn and Apply" formula
Don't wait for an article to be perfect. Publish it, learn from it and apply the lessons to your next article.
I consider perfectionism a form of procrastination. The more you wait for "the perfect moment", the longer it takes to take action in every area of your life.
Rather than waiting for an article to be perfect, aim for a good-enough piece.
How can you determine if an article is good enough? You can ask yourself these questions:
- Does your article have a structure? A structured article starts with an introduction (where you give a bit of background and what the article will contain), followed by the body (where you dive deeper into the topic), a conclusion (where you sum up the article), and additional resources (where you pile external resources). Ideally, you'll also include subheadings.
Have you written enough about the topic you want to write about? Meaning, does it give enough information to the reader? You want to try to avoid leaving the user with a bitter taste when they finish reading an article and at the same time overloading them with too much information.
Have you included visuals? You can include images, graphs, gifs, screenshots, videos, and code snippets to break down the text. We process visuals faster than text. You should prefer using images over readers if it makes it easier to receive a message.
Does it have a "catchy" but informative headline, followed by a good cover image?
Every article is a new learning experience.
Publish the article. Learn. Apply what you learn in your next article.
Follow this cycle for months and watch your writing skills skyrocket. 🚀
3. Write about what you know or you wish you knew
Do you struggle to come up with new article ideas?
You can write about the following:
What you're currently learning: are you learning new technology? Could you write an article about it?
What is something that you've learned so well that you're happy to teach other people? Could you write an article about it?
Is there anything you wish someone had told you when you started your career? Any mistakes you've made in your career? Could you write an article about it?
There are other criteria you can use to come up with article topics:
Consume more high-quality content: LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, and Reddit are all excellent places to come up with more article ideas. Q&A sites are excellent because they have many questions that can inspire you to write articles (and potentially rank higher on Google).
Read books: read fiction or non-fiction books. To become a better writer, you will need to read. Reading helps with expanding your vocabulary and shaping your writing style.
Take whatever exists and make it better: have you ever searched for a question on Google, but you were not fully satisfied with the answers? That's an opportunity to write an article around that question. Often, good articles can derive from frustration.
Where should I start writing?
For the tech community, there are many options available:
Dev Community + CodeNewBie.
My experience with Hashnode and Dev Community has been excellent. Therefore I'm primarily active on those platforms.
Read more about the free blogging platforms where you can start your tech blog.
What if I'm not an expert?
If you wait to become an expert, you will be waiting for a long time. Start now and learn as you go.
In this article, you've learned that:
To become a better technical writer, you'll need to practice.
Publish, Learn and Apply (give up the idea of being a perfectionist).
Write about what you know, or you wish you knew.
Do you have any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading my article.
Until next time! 🙋🏾♀️