Technical writing roundtable
We gathered a panel of writers and editors to discuss topics in technical writing.
October 20 is the National Day on Writing. Created by the US National Council of Teachers in English (NCTE) and officially recognized by US Senate resolutions in 2009 and 2010, the National Day on Writing is an opportunity to celebrate the writing experience.
At Technically We Write, we celebrate all forms of technical writing. We wanted to recognize this year's National Day on Writing by gathering a panel of experts to discuss topics in technical writing. Lauren Maffeo (author), Lauren Pritchett (editor), and Don Watkins and Chris Hermansen (writers) shared their expertise in this engaging 45-minute roundtable conversation on a variety of topics. Here are a few highlights from the panel:
How did you get started in technical writing? Our panel shares an open source software background, and they discussed their perspectives about writing their first article about open source software. It's a passion, and we wanted to write something that we enjoyed doing.
We also heard similar themes from what others in our community shared about getting into tech writing, including starting with a blog.
What writing tool or technology do you like to use? The panel uses a variety of tools they use for writing. For example, Lauren M wrote her book with Markdown and Git. Others mentioned Asciidoc as another markup system for plain text documents.
Others highlighted desktop tools. One favorite was Google Docs, especially when collaborating with others on a document. Several of us also cited LibreOffice Writer. For example, Lauren P uses LibreOffice to generate ebooks and other kinds of documents.
What advice would you give someone who wants to write? The general theme is write what you know. There's a market for every kind of article on every kind of topic. Don't worry about if someone else wrote about that same topic, you will bring a new perspective to the solution.
We also touched on imposter syndrome. New writers may worry if they really know enough about a topic to write about, or if their topic is good enough for publication. It's interesting that this panel was filled with experienced writers who all occasionally feel like an article might not be "good enough" to publish. Don't let doubts hold you back.
What's your process in technical writing? Several on the panel discussed how they research a topic before they write about it. Lauren P gave excellent advice to write out an article like you're talking about it with a friend. If you can start with that perspective, the rest of the article will come more easily.
The panel also discussed websites where people can write articles, including Technically We Write and a new website, Opensource.net, about open source software.
Share your story
We want to share your story! Technically We Write is all about technical writing, including writing technologies and tools. We encourage everyone to write with us on Technically We write!
Write about what you know. For example, we'd love to read your "how-to" article about how you do an everyday task. If you manage a website with a web content management system like Drupal or Typo3, write an article about how to create a new page. If you write documentation as part of your job, share a document template you like to use.
We also welcome interviews. Ask someone about their role in technical communication, such as a technical writer or a technical editor. Share their story and highlight what they do.
And you don't need to have "technical writer" as your job title to write for Technically We Write. Everyone does technical and professional writing, no matter their career. Project managers might write an article about how they write status reports for business owners. IT professionals might write about how they create system documentation.
What you write is up to you. Make your article your own!
Contact us if you'd like to contribute an article to Technically We Write. If you aren't sure where to start, we can help you refine your ideas. If you aren't confident of your writing, our editors can help edit for grammar and style.