For the past two years, I have been involved with technical writing on a variety of web development and career advice topics. Like anything in life, writing is a process and it has taken me a lot of time to get comfortable with it. With every new blog post, I manage to not only learn something new but also get a little bit stronger as a writer.
In this article, I will show you my writing process and provide some tools that have helped me along the way.
- How to come up with ideas for writing
- How to come up with good headlines
- How to create an outline for your blog post
- How to write for your target audience
- How to create a rough draft for your blog post
- How to proofread your work
- Where to publish your work
I have heard from a lot of people that they have always wanted to get started writing but they don't know what to write. My answer for them is to write about what is currently happening in your life.
If you just started working as a Junior developer, write about your first few months on the job. Lots of aspiring developers want to know what it is like to work as a developer and your insights could help them out.
For me, I choose to write about things I have learned at work, beginner developer tutorials or response posts to current events in the industry. Other times I will write about my journey and the lessons I have learned along the way.
Whether you are 2 days into programming or 2 decades in, everyone has something valuable to share and there will be people that are willing to listen.
A strong headline can mean the difference between someone choosing to read your article or not. You might have the best content in the world but if the title is not engaging, then people probably won't bother to click on it. Sometimes people will take this to the extreme and create clickbait titles because they are more concerned with likes and clicks instead of producing strong quality content. But your goal is to create a strong headline with strong content behind it.
If you are writing a tutorial, then your headline should include "How to do x ..." or "How to build x". People are always looking for good tutorials and a strong crafted headline can help them find your blog post.
If you are writing about your journey, you might consider starting with "Why I chose to ..." or "What I learned from x".
The more you write articles, the better you will get at coming up with strong headlines that will grab the attention of the reader.
Once you have come up with an idea and headline, you can start planning out your article. I choose to write out some subheadings to help me organize my thoughts. I use Markdown for all of my articles and this is an example of some of the subheadings for this article.
## How to come up with ideas for writing ## How to come up with good headlines ## How to create an outline for your blog post ## How to create a rough draft for your blog post ## How to proofread your work ## Where to publish your work
This is just a starting point and usually, I will edit this list as I start to revise my article. But I find it helpful to get some general talking points written down to help get started with the writing process. Some people will choose to do more elaborate outlines but for me, I like to keep it on the simple side.
As you are writing your article, it is important to keep your target audience in mind. Think about what types of problems this audience is facing and how your article will help them. Also, think about what kind of content this audience is looking for. Maybe you are a seasoned developer and you are seeing a lack of high-quality articles for that target audience.
If you are writing for beginners, please make sure to not skip steps. Walk through the entire step-by-step process for tutorials so beginners can follow along with what you are doing. It is also helpful to include links for more learning resources, so they can continue to learn more about the topics you are writing about.
Another thing to consider is being mindful of making assumptions about the reader. If your articles are geared towards a more intermediate or advanced technical audience make sure to include prerequisites at the beginning. For example, I was working on a recent article about GraphQL and Apollo Server. This article was geared towards those already working with Apollo Server, so we weren't going to cover the basics. I added a small section at the beginning labeled prerequisites, that let people know I wasn't going to be covering the basics of Apollo Server and GraphQL so they would know what to expect in the article.
Lastly, I would suggest staying away from using phrases like "this is simple" or "it's easy, you just do this". What might seem simple to you might be difficult for someone else. So it is important to write articles that are inviting and welcoming to everyone.
It is important to remember that writing is a process. It will take you a few revisions for a blog post until it is considered to be the final draft and that is ok. That first draft is meant to be rough around the edges. It is better to focus on the general content than achieve a perfect draft the first time around.
When I am writing my articles, I start by getting all of my ideas on the page. Some ideas are good and some are removed later on. But I don't get hung on small details at this stage. My main goal is to just get something going.
There will be times when you will read a draft and not like a lot of what you wrote and that's completely normal. There have many times when I deleted whole sections from my article because it didn't fit or work at all. Sometimes you have to see what doesn't work to get to what will.
When I am working on my rough draft, I have tons of spelling errors. Here is an example of the first draft for the intro of this article:
For the past two years, I have been involved with tenical writing on variety of web development and career advices topics. LIke anything in life, writing is a process and it has taken me a lot of time to get comfortble with it. With every new blog post, I manage to not only learn smething new but I also get a little bit stronger as a writer. In this article, I will show you my personal writtting process and provide some tools that have helped me along the way.
There are tons of mistakes but the basic idea is there. This gives me something to work with and edit later on.
Once you have finished your first draft, I would suggest taking a small break before returning to edit it. This break will give you a fresh pair of eyes and allow you to spot errors better.
When I am editing my work, I will go through section by section and clean up the spelling and grammar mistakes. I like to use the Grammarly extension in VS Code to help with that.
I find it helps to read out loud the final drafts just to make sure that everything flows nicely and in a logical manner. You would be surprised what mistakes you can catch by reading your content out loud.
There are many free options to publish your work. Here are a few places to consider:
You might also consider creating a blog and building an audience there.
I hope you enjoyed this article and learned a few tips on how to get started writing technical articles. If you have an idea, jump in and get started writing today.