Technical writing is a specific kind of writing. It does not have to be creative and entertaining. It should be informative, precise, and simple. It has its own rules and regulations. Of course, every technical writer is eager to improve their writing skills. So, today I would like to discuss the ways it can be done. I am not going to tell you about books and courses. It is quite obvious. I`d like to tell you about the things that seem to be not quite important, but they can be helpful and effective.
Yes, reading. How often do you read? If you do it regularly, that is simply great. But if you are always busy, you often skip this part thinking that you will do it later. That is quite wrong. Reading can help you master the structure of sentences and expand your vocabulary. It is impossible to create good technical documentation without these two components. They are the key to language efficiency. So, get the habit of reading several times a week. In a while, you will see that your language has enriched.
Editing Other Authors` Texts
That is right. Editing texts will sharpen your eye and helps you more attentive to the content. You will easily see what and how should be improved. If you include editing in your timetable on a regular basis, you will see that your own texts become smoother and more polished. The main idea is not to drop it thinking that you already know a lot. Constant training will make your texts perfect.
You may have your own vision of what your document should consist of and how it should be written. But are you sure that you are objective enough? Ask your clients, your colleagues, or your friends about your documents. Are they helpful and clear? Are they easy-to-read and informative at the same time? Does it take time to find the necessary information? That is a great opportunity to see what the audience thinks about your documentation and what you should work on. In case you create online documentation, it is easier to get the feedback. Users do not hesitate to ask questions if something is vague or vote for a help topic with “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” widgets. Also, you can check some metrics of your technical documentation in our help authoring tool, for instance, readability scores, bounce rates, the number of visitors, session duration and etc.
Develop Communication Skills
That may sound odd, but written communication is different from the oral one. Being a technical writer you often have to talk to specialists from various spheres to get the information you need for your documentation. You should know what to ask and how to ask to be sure that you know enough to transmit your knowledge to the readers. You may prepare a plan for the interview. You should not be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand anything.
That is it. Simple things. But they require efforts and discipline not to omit them if you want to see great results. What do you do to improve your technical writing skills (or maybe, some other skills)?