Technical Writing:
The WHYs and HOWS

Dillion Megida

Frontend Engineer &

Technical Writer

Table of Contents

  • Introduction to Technical Writing
    • What is Technical Writing?
    • Kinds of Technical Writing
  • Why DO people NOT write articles?
  • Why should you write articles? (Benefits)
  • Getting started with technical articles
    • Processes involved in writing technical articles
    • How to discover article ideas
    • Why you should not care if an article has been written already
  • Wrap Up

What is Technical Writing

Technical writing is basically, a piece of written information related to tech.

 

Wikipedia defines it as the process of writing and sharing technical information in a professional setting.

 

A person who writes technical articles, is a Technical Writer.

INTRODUCTION TO TECHNICAL WRITING

Kinds of Technical Writing

  • Tutorials: e.g How to build Druz
  • Introduction to tools: e.g Getting Started with React.
  • Documentations: e.g Render props in React
  • Best practices: e.g How to optimize a web application to increase speed.
  • Opionions on tools or languages: e.g Why you should use Vue instead of Angular
  • Solutions to problems: e.g How to solve the 'RangeError' in JavaScript.
  • and many more

INTRODUCTION TO TECHNICAL WRITING

Why do people not write articles?

Based on my research and things I've observed on social media, people do not write articles for reasons like:

  • Unavailability of time
  • "What do I know?"
  • "I do not have the skill"
  • "I do not know what to write about. There are already a ton of articles out there"

Let's look at these points in detail...

Unavailability of time

People do not write because they already have a lot on their plate - office work, responsibilities at home, and many other reasons.

WHY DO PEOPLE NOT WRITE ARTICLES?

Writing requires effort - from the research process, to creating a draft, to the editing process, and to the publishing process. Hence, it requires time. Some who have the desire but may not be able to make out time for it.

"What do I know?"

That feeling of inadequacy.

WHY DO PEOPLE NOT WRITE ARTICLES?

Well, the truth is, we all know one thing or the other. My responses to this question are:

Some people feel like juniors with no experience, hence, the "What do I know" question.

  • What do you know?
  • What languages do you use?
  • What tools do you use?

"I do not have the skill"

Writing is a skill. What people fail to understand is, while this skill comes freely to some people, it has to be developed by others.

WHY DO PEOPLE NOT WRITE ARTICLES?

Yes, writing is not for everyone. But it's worth giving a try.

"I do not know what to write about. There are already a ton of articles out there"

People (developers/potential writers) feel they are only overloading the internet with articles that have been written numerous times.

 

They also find it hard even coming up with ideas at all.

 

Later in the slides, we'll learn how to come up with article ideas and the reasons why you shouldn't be bothered if your idea has been written before.

WHY DO PEOPLE NOT WRITE ARTICLES?

Why should you write articles?

  • Writing validates your knowledge
  • It's an opportunity to learn new things
  • It shows potential recruiters that you know your craft
  • It improves your writing skills
  • It allows you to connect and help developers around the world

Let's look at these points in detail...

Writing validates your knowledge

You cannot teach what you don't know.

WHY SHOULD YOU WRITE ARTICLES?

Writing helps to validate the knowledge you already have, and most times, such knowledge stick longer.

An opportunity to learn new things

There are two forms of 'new things', which are:

WHY SHOULD YOU WRITE ARTICLES?

  • Things you discover while writing on a topic which you have prior knowledge of.
  • Things you discover when you are making research (or learning) a tool or language for the purpose of writing.

It shows potential recruiters that you know your craft

There are two forms of 'new things', which are:

WHY SHOULD YOU WRITE ARTICLES?

  • Things you discover while writing on a topic which you have prior knowledge of.
  • Things you discover when you are making research (or learning) a tool or language for the purpose of writing.

It improves your writing skills

The more you write, the more you learn how to write.

WHY SHOULD YOU WRITE ARTICLES?

In almost all endeavors in life, perfection is a journey. It starts somewhere. This is the same for writing.

 

Your combination of words, methods of expression, format for organizing content in your article and many more only improve the more you do it. Improvements then make your message passed across easily.

It allows you to connect and help developers around the world

While you may be writing to validate your knowledge, it also increases your potential of connecting with people.

WHY SHOULD YOU WRITE ARTICLES?

At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to help out other developers around the world.

Getting started with Technical Writing

  1. Get a blogging platform: You can use dev.to, hashnode or create your personal blog.
  2. Discover topics to write about (methods of doing so are in the next section)
  3. Write, review, edit, review, edit, review and edit (possibly give a friend to help go through it).
  4. Publish the article and advertise it on social media.

You see that? Very easy to get started. However, there are standards to follow when writing to ensure that readers can easily understand your article. The Google Technical Writing Documentation is a great resource.

Methods of generating article Ideas

  1. When you discover a new trick, you can write about it. This would help other developers benefit from the new trick also.
  2. When you debug a problem on your own, you can write about it. Maybe you had to go to our StackOverflow and few other places to get solutions, but to no avail, putting out your own solution would be helpful to the community.
  3. Pick up an interesting topic that you want to write about but have no idea of. This method is not always efficient, but it's a great opportunity to try out something new.
  4. Maybe you were trying to understand a particular topic, and you had to go through various platforms, you can create a simplified article to save other developers the stress.
  5. Many other ways. It doesn't have to a 1000-worded article. Your main focus should be to learn and share your knowledge. If you can do this with 2 words, that's fine : )

Why you shouldn't care if an article has been written already.

This topic requires a section of its own because this is one of the major barriers holding down potential amazing writers. I'd address three reasons for this:

  1. Your article may be the first to introduce someone to a new tool (despite thousands of other people that know of it already).
  2. Your article may just be that article that would clearly explain a concept that someone has been trying to understand.
  3. Your article may just be that article that would impress a potential recruiter.

There are more reasons to this, but don't ever feel bad writing an article that already exist. It is still you benefiting from it after all.

Resources

Wrap up

You'd also have to be careful to not deceive yourself. Writing articles is different from paraphrasing documentation.

 

Your main focus as a writer should be to learn and teach, not establish a false profile. While teaching, the audience would follow.

There's no better feeling than referencing your own article when you come encounter an issue or need help with something.

There's also no better feeling than referring to your own article when someone raises a question.

 

The "I have an article on it" kind of feeling is amazing.

GOOD LUCK!

Getting Started with your Technical Writing career : )

THANK YOU!

Dillion Megida

Frontend Engineer and Technical Writer

Website - dillionmegida.com

Twitter - @iamdillion

 

Technical Writing:The WHYs and HOWS

By Dillion Megida

Technical Writing:The WHYs and HOWS

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