Web Explored: Writing Technically, Cutting Courage & Others

writing technically - Digital view technical things

One of the greatest challenges of factu­al writing is writing technic­ally, or cover­ing aspects that are specif­ic to your profes­sion, or speci­al­ity. Writing technic­ally can be one of the toughest challenges we face. We all have those ‘special’ words, the jargon or language of our speci­al­ity and it is all too easy to lapse into that technic­al jargon.


Writing Technically

Tom DuPuis of Instructional Solutions talks about technic­al writing, offer­ing “9 Technical Writing Tips Every Writer Needs to Know”. The key here is taking a technic­al or special­ist subject and explain it clearly and concisely. One aspect that is vital to think about is “a technic­al document is your contri­bu­tion to poster­ity. That’s right, you are passing on technic­al knowledge for readers now and in the future”. Thus writing needs to be timeless in nature, describe the compon­ents that people need to know about as effect­ively as possible.

If any of your writing involves writing about the technic­al aspects of your profes­sion then you will need to re-read, check and valid­ate the advice offered. One other aspect I would like to highlight is “The better instruc­tions are the ones that are most effect­ive for the reader, regard­less of the word count”. This is true wheth­er you are writing for a blog or creat­ing a technic­al manual.

Big Words

Big BenSarah Moore, writing for The Write Practice makes enjoy­able reading. In “How to Use Big Words Without Making a Fool of Yourself” she talks about finding out that the meaning for a word is differ­ent than you thought it was. Have you been there? I have. She shows readers six deadly sins, includ­ing the way we confuse simil­ar words that have an oppos­ite meaning.
I love her thought “if you’re not sure, follow my mom’s oft-repeated advice: look it up”. That was also my mother’s advice. I agree, looking up a word either on-line or in a diction­ary can clari­fy things greatly. Having looked up many common sayings and it has turned out the are often misspoken. No matter how much we love those words or phrases you can test your tongue around, they feel good when you speak them, but the most crucial thing is that you use the right word at the right time and know what it means.
Dominique Jackson in Lifehack talks about the “25 Common Phrases That You’re Saying Wrong”. For example: ‘I could care less’ versus ‘I couldn’t care less’. Most people use the former phrase, when they mean the latter. If you have no interest it means you couldn’t care less.

Continuing on a Theme

Tom Johnson in “Why simple language isn’t so simple: the struggle to create plain language in document­a­tion” also looks at technic­al based writing, or writing technic­ally. Particularly why writers don’t use simpler language. His first point is that writers don’t realise their writing is hard to read. He gives many examples, includ­ing liber­al examples showing analys­is by the Hemingway App. 
Personally, I look at tools, like Hemingway or Grammarly with mixed emotion. There are elements that are very helpful, but others that are less so. I don’t believe that simply because a sentence is 119 words long doesn’t make it automat­ic­ally hard to read. Despite that I do agree that, especially when writing has technic­al elements writers are content to embrace complex­ity, rather than break it down. Common sense is a required element of editing.
Further Johnson argues “maybe writers don’t embrace simple language because they fear this simpli­city will lead to uneducated-looking prose”. I have certainly met writers who use this philo­sophy. 

Whose Opinion Matters?

who by Maialisa CC0 Public Domain from PixabayWhen it comes to other people’s opinion of us Joui Turandot tells us “I have made this mistake many times in the past. I let anoth­er person’s opinion cloud my own vision without first asking myself wheth­er I even respect that opinion”. She isn’t the only person to have made that mistake.
In our modern day lives we do seek valid­a­tion and feedback for many of the things we do. Some feedback can’t be avoided (for example if you comment on this page), but there are many times we should apply a filter. Some opinions we simply don’t need to hear
Turandot contin­ues “I am sensit­ive. One unchecked opinion can cause me to feel ungroun­ded and unable to think clearly”. Whose opinion of you matters? Think a little and ensure you filter correctly.

Cut with Courage

This next segment returns to writing. I thank Dr. Noelle Sterne who offers wise advice in “Cut with Courage” at Two Drops of Ink. One of the challenges all writers face, the glori­ous piece of prose that goes one step too far. Her advice “we must learn to edit our work with less parent­al pride and more outsider objectiv­ity”.
That is so tough to do.The first challenge is detect­ing the writing where we have gone too far. You mind will protest at remov­ing the words. I have been there saying “it is neces­sary” or “it proves my genius”. But I think this also links to writing technic­ally and our desire to use the words those sharing your speci­al­ity under­stand. If the piece will be read by lay people then plain English is vital.
It matters not how much hard work you have put into the piece, those extraneous phrases we adore, have to go. This applies as much to non-fiction writing and blogs as it does to fiction, perhaps arguable more so.

Twitter Search

Twitter BirdDid you know there was an advanced search feature on Twitter? Jon Clark from Social Engine Journal shows all how in “Everything You Need to Know About Twitter Advanced Search”. The exact phrase, any word, and other advanced features are all included. You can also search for people, places, dates, and other options.
Twitter is the worlds second most popular search engine. The result, always, is a list of tweets. This can be useful as it can enable you to find people with specif­ic interests to connect to. It also makes avail­able a list of blog posts about a specif­ic topic.


An Interesting Podcast


I will admit it — I have never been hugely into podcasts, but for some reason this inter­view between Jeff Goins and Maneesh Sethi seemed inter­est­ing. You can listen to the poscast here, or see the full article by Jeff Goins here. Enjoy.


Web Explored

Web explored brings a series of articles to my reader’s atten­tion that I feel need highlight­ing. If you are inter­ested in simil­ar articles then please take a look at the Web Explored Category, or look at some of the follow­ing:

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