If you have been considering a career in technical writing, but you don’t know how to go about things, it’s safe to say that one of the most important qualities you should have is patience. Why’s that? The fact is that patience can make the difference between an excellent technical writer and a not-so-good one.
In this post, we will go through some of the processes that you ought to bear in mind when you’re starting out with technical writing.
Why is research paramount?
It’s often that technical writers have to create articles on topics that they know nothing about. Although it might sound like a cliche, doing proper research beforehand can save you a lot of time and a lot of trouble. You won’t end up dealing with an issue if you know for sure that all of the info you’ve used in the writing piece can be proven and has been extracted from reliable sources.
While it might be tempting to go online and look for as much info on the subject you need to write about, you need to make sure that you choose the right resources. How could you possibly separate the wheat from the chaff?
There are several websites where you can find scientific papers published on the specific topic you need to address. Look for those and then try to read as much documentation as possible before outlining the contents of your article. There are two reasons you ought to consider this method instead of others.
On the one hand, you’ll feel reassured that your piece is good and that there’s no chance of it being rejected by an editor. On the other hand, it will present you as an expert in the field or at least it will suggest that you are willing to work as hard as possible to ensure that your article is trustworthy.
Tackling difficult topics
If you are lucky enough to be part of a business where you can have a talk with a professional whose career is just the domain that you need to delve into for your next article, you can simply ask that person to sit down and discuss some issues with you.
This way, you will get the right advice straight from the horse’s mouth. For example, writing about optical instruments, and even more so, high-end ones can be very challenging, especially if your background has nothing in common with them. As we have noted above, almost any topic is ‘digestible’ if you take the time to find out as much as you can about it.
The problem with highly technical or scientific topics is that you need to be certain that the info you are going to include in your work is reliable. If you have enough time at your disposal, it might be a good idea to get in touch with the author of a scientific paper and ask him or her several questions. Of course, you will then have to include their name as a source in the article.