Saturday, October 27, 2012

Taking the “Ech” out of Technical Writing


by M. J. Joachim
Derived from the Greek word tekhnikos, evolving to tekhne, before eventually becoming techno, the word technical itself refers to skill and expertise in a certain subject. Naturally, this includes understanding vocabulary and language associated with one’s subject matter, as well as the natural level of comfort and confidence, which automatically happen when you’re familiar with your topic.

Time to BUILD YOUR VOCABULARY, Friends!

All you have to do to present yourself as a technical writer in any field, is understand your topic, know the lingo and be able to express your knowledge and skills, in written communication.

Practice makes perfect. Enjoying the subject and expressing a certain confidence and comfort level doesn’t hurt either.

Oh, you should some of the first drafts I write, when they relate to topics I’m not as familiar with – edit, Edit, EDIT!!!

I could just see myself writing about installing a dishwasher…the blind leading the blind comes to mind, and you can bet it will never happen, without lots of research and (preferably) personal instruction first.

Writing about crochet, on the other hand…

Well, for those of you who have seen my Lots of Crochet Stitches blog, you understand exactly what I’m saying. I could teach people how to crochet with one hand behind my back, and being able to write about it is simply an extra perk. I love this stuff and it shows in every post I publish!

Getting a bit more technical now…

Technical writing, therefore, is the ability to communicate with your audience, relaying specific, reliable information about a particular topic. It’s using [topic specific, common words] written in a document or manuscript, which expresses one’s expertise of that topic, relaying it in a trustworthy manner to those interested in learning more about that subject, or because guidelines pertaining to the matter require technical documentation of it. [Think medical and legal profession here for more clarity, please.]

Are you already a technical writer, kind follower? I’m betting the answer is a big, bold, “YES!” In fact, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that most writers use technical writing skills in many of their projects and assignments.

Why, you ask? Because we all have a story, things we like to do and an uncanny ability to share those things with others through the written word. Most of the time, we write about what we know, sharing tips, advice and lessons learned along the way.

Sometimes, we learn a new topic. However, we use our skills as writers to bring it to life in an interesting and effective way, even when it seems a little bit out of our league. I’m glad I’ve never had to write about installing a dishwasher, but if I ever do, you can bet it will be an article worth reading. There’s no way I’d let my audience down on a technicality, which means I really would know how to install a dishwasher, way before the article ever got published in the first place!

That’s all for now, good peopleJ Wishing you every success with your writing!

M. J.


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Photo Credit: Wikiversity, Public Domain