What recommendations for a first-time writer?
Our community shares their advice for anyone who's just getting started in technical writing.
We get better with practice. From your perspective and experience, what would you recommend to someone who's just getting started in technical writing? We asked our community for their advice:
Lauren Pritchett says what's "obvious" to you may not be obvious to someone else:
A common misconception first-time writers have is that they think their solution to a problem is obvious, so why would they need to write about it? But what is obvious to you is not obvious to everyone else! People spend hours, days, weeks researching the right solution so it is important to get your angle out there. There's no need to overcomplicate it. Write what you know. As Julie Andrews once sang, start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start!
Jim Hall says don't let Perfect be the enemy of Good:
It took me a long time to accept that not every article I wrote would be spun from gold. If it's not "ready" for publishing, I don't run it. But at the same time, I also recognize that an article that's just "okay" is still fine to run. As they say: don't let Perfect be the enemy of Good. By definition, "good" is actually good enough.
Robin Bland recommends focusing on the content, not beautiful prose:
The most important thing about writing a how-to article is describing the steps in a way that the reader will understand it. It doesn't need beautiful prose around it. Just describe the steps you need to follow to do the task.
Ben Cotton says you will get better with practice:
Poor writing is better than no writing. If you write poorly, you can get better with practice. If you don't write, you'll never get better. If you're worried that your writing isn't very good, start by publishing obscure blog posts that you don't share with anyone except a few trusted friends who will give you honest feedback. Even if no one reads it except you, the practice will help you improve. We all are still refining our craft, no matter how long we've been at it.
Seth Kenlon recommends learning a scripting language:
Learn a scripting language. Whether you're working in a Linux terminal or something else, take time (and it does take time!) to get comfortable with running commands, and stringing commands together. There's nothing more frustrating than having to do the same task over and over again because you don't know how to script a batch process.
I used to waste so much time doing tiny maintenance tasks. It was frustrating. It took years for me to get to where I want to be, but it was worth the effort. I'd like to say that my productivity has soared since learning how to do simple little programming tasks, and it may well look as if it has, but actually it's all down to automation!