As a technical writer, you might get a surprising reading that the process of technical writing uses to take a considerable amount of time to plan and review the entire documentation than to write. It follows a specific set of steps. This process of technical writing can be categorized into two different approaches. One, based on the approach a professional writer takes, the means are defined, and the second is based on how the document goes through various cycles or phases. In this chapter, you will learn about the first approach, where different steps to process in writing technical documentation will be mentioned in detail.
Technical Writing Processes
The process of planning what to write plays a crucial part in making your document or content creation time more valuable. On the other hand, the review phase will be vital for ensuring whether your document is officially sound and accurate as well as presentable to the audience accessible or not. Before beginning with the first word, it is necessary to collect some specific information regarding the topic. You must ask yourself whether you are conceptually clear or not about the topic on which you will write documentation. So, it is a smart approach to plan first and then write.
Other than these two processing stages, there are some other essential components that a technical writer should go through to prepare the document on any particular subject or topic.
More Process Stages for Document Preparation
Many project delivery personnel and marketing people say that "documentation is the key to express a project, system, service or product". So, you have to understand the project for which you are writing the document. Few key areas and process stages are:
- Preparing the Project: This process of making a document triggers as the technical document is requested to process. This process may be commenced by a colleague, an employer, or any client of your company or firm. As per the information gathered from the discussion, the preliminary requirements are definite. As a technical writer, you need to have a fair idea of what should be the document type, content, subject area, or domain of writing, scope, and goals, as well as the most important, who will be the target audience.
- Project Understandability: A conversation without understanding what to write in the document is valueless or of no use. To make sure that you, as the technical writer or author, have a clear understanding of the project. Questions that can be asked to clarify the project technicalities are another crucial stage for writing.
- Analyzing the Audience Thoroughly: After the client's early project preparation is done, the major writing factor is your audience. They are always at the forefront of the mind of technical writers. Usually, technical information won't change. So, the change will be how those facts are expressed understandably.
- User Understanding: For knowing for whom you are drafting the document, you have to collect as much data as possible regarding who will make use of your document. It makes sense when you think like whether your audience has expertise in any particular field, or if that topic is entirely new to them, or whether they lie somewhere in between the above said.
You have to keep in mind that the reader's goal is what guides your entire writing progression where the documentation must fill their needs and the answer to their questions.
For having a clear understanding of your reader(s), you have to ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are they?
- What do they need?
- When will they be reading?
- Why will they be reading?
- Where will they be reading?
- How will they be reading?
Once you answered all the above questions to yourself, then only you are good to go and draft the entire document.