If you’re able to understand complex algorithms and speak different programming languages, chances are, you’re probably quite good at collecting your thoughts and putting them down on paper. Here are a few ways to make your writing process easier.
Writing about what you do is an excellent way of improving your communication skills and showcasing your work to your company and more globally the tech community. At dailymotion, we want to encourage our developers to write articles, and it’s my job to help get them started. Even if developers are often credited for having logical minds, it’s not easy for anyone to explain complex ideas or abstract concepts. So, if you want to give it a go: be patient, constant and brave.
1. Define your topic and angle
Before you begin, define a topic that’s not too vast or specific. For example,“What types of tasks are developers involved in?” can’t be summarized in one article. On the other hand, “What colors should we use in text editors?” is a niche content.
Tips: If you’re writing an article using a company account, don’t forget to stay aligned with the company’s values and tone of voice.
Once you’ve defined your topic, choose an angle. Narrow down your thoughts to avoid going in all directions. For instance, that’s why I chose to title my article “5 tips…”, and not “Everything a developer needs to know about writing an article”.
If you want to write about one of your projects, pick an angle to describe your work:
· a technical angle helps explain how your work contributes to the business
· a human angle focuses on how your work can or has helped the team grow
· a historical angle explains how choices have been made based on the project’s history
If a topic is interesting and you have a lot to say about it, don’t hesitate to create several posts with different angles to cover the whole subject. But don’t try to stuff too many approaches into one article.
Tips: According to Medium, you should limit your article to 1,600 words and its reading time should not exceed 7 minutes. 94% of Internet articles can be read in less than 6 minutes and 74% in less than 3 minutes.
2. Think about a drafting plan before starting
Many people tend to go with the flow. Don’t, it’s the best way to get a case of writers block. Unless you’re a literary genius, you should think about scribbling a plan before writing.
There are three classic plan structures:
· Dialectic (thesis, antithesis, synthesis)
· Analytic (review a topic theme by theme)
· Case study (who, what, when, how, why, and now?)
Remember, your reader is constantly solicited by content and time is precious. It’s therefore likely they’ll be put off by a ten-minute read, so always start with a core concept and then develop your idea.
3. Make your headlines sexy
Now that you defined what and how you want to write, it’s time to create catchy headlines. Content studies show that people first read the title, the introduction paragraph then the heading of a text. Don’t be too flat, but don’t oversell your work with misleading headlines. There’s nothing worse than a “question titled” article that never gives an answer.
The shorter and catchier your headlines are, the more efficient they’ll be. Don’t try to sound sassy or funny if you don’t feel comfortable writing. Be honest and straight forward as possible.
Tips: Remember, it’s always better to use a simple descriptive title than a abstract title no one will understand.
Another way of catching your reader’s attention is to use pictures especially if the photo or drawing is original and impactful. Once again, don’t use a picture that is not related to your topic, you want your reader to understand your point.
4. Write every paragraph as if it was the last
Your reader will most likely not read your article religiously. They might skim read it while doing something else, or take a glance at it during a stressful commute. Sometimes they may only start to read it from the middle.
Because your reader is unpredictable, introduce a hook for every paragraph introduction and conclusion. A great hook can be a quote, a key number or even a pun. Make sure your reader is going to explore the next paragraph by staying in charge of their attentiveness.
5. Look for feedback from your colleagues
Ok, you’ve written an article. Now go ask for feedback. Your ego may feel trampled at first, but letting a friendly audience judge your work is a perfect sandbox before the real thing drops. It will help you avoid too many mistakes, but also challenge your topic, angle, headlines and overall value of your article.
In truth, there’s nothing worse than censoring yourself. Be proud, write your own articles and show them to the world. We usually say that there is 1% of contributors, 9% of actives and 90% of spectators on the Internet. At dailymotion, we encourage all our developers to be part of this 1%, because we truly believe that sharing your work is the best way to feel valued and empowered.