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18 Expert Tips to Foster Creativity in Technical Writing

Technical writing job continues to grow over the years. In fact, it is #4 in Best Creative and Media Jobs and is expected to have a further vertical rise in 2022.

By definition, technical writing is any written form of writing or drafting technical communication used in a variety of technical and occupational fields, such as computer hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, aeronautics, robotics, finance, medical and consumer electronics, and biotechnology.

Learn how these skilled writers add creativity in writing technical articles that help readers understand the subject effectively.

Christoph Trappe, The Authentic Storytelling Project

Christoph Trappe

Any form of writing can use creativity. Find a new way to tell the story AND remember to actually tell a story. Sometimes cheesy can be fun and work for some brands even.

Warren Whitlock,

Warren Whitlock

All writing should use stories. Especially technical subjects. It’s science! Our brains are wired to store information as stories.

Our memories are connected to things like when we heard something, how we feel about things, and how things work together. Weave a story and your writing will be enjoyed and remembered.

Mariah Obiedzinski, MedTouch

Mariah Obiedzinski

Technical doesn’t have to mean dry. Infusing technical writing with conversational, recognizable language not only makes the piece more interesting to read but also makes it easier for readers to digest.

Less processing time gets them to the next step quickly and efficiently.

Lilach Bullock,

Lilach Bullock

It can be difficult to find the right balance between the two, but I am a firm believer that injecting some of the writers’ personalities into technical writing can make for a better reading experience.

You can still be objective and critical even if you let your personality influence your writing; whether it’s a certain writing style, a pop culture reference, a real-life example, it brings more value to your writing and makes it stand out. That said, you also need to judge when it’s OK to show off your own writer personality and when you need to tone it down.

Nathan Bracy, Revenue River

Nathan Bracy

Regardless of the technical nature of your blog, you have to understand that you’re creating content for people. Being creative in technical writing is a great way to present information in a new manner, and it’s a lot easier than you think.

Good writers will be able to creatively share information that makes it feel like their writing isn’t overly technical, and it’s easy to consume. This makes it valuable, which is the ultimate goal for any content piece.

Nina Mancuso,

Nina Mancuso

It is always difficult to be creative with Technical Writing because the clients should always follow our written processes step-by-step for the best results.

However, whenever I edit content from the software developers, I look at the sentences as if they are a word puzzle.

Oftentimes, software developers have their own language, and it can be difficult to translate their words into procedures that our clients can understand. When that situation happens, I take apart the entire paragraph and read each sentence individually so that I can understand the process.

After I have an understanding, I rewrite the paragraph to be as clear and concise as possible by deleting the unnecessary words and restructuring the sentences. I enjoy puzzles so this editing aspect of Technical Writing is the most creative for me.

Unfortunately, I do not do anything creative that would make our manuals and help systems more interesting to read because most people using our documentation need it to install software or run updates, and those are specific procedures. But I do use colorful highlighters for all of my meetings and tasks because it is a fun way for me to keep track of all of my responsibilities.

Maddy Osman, The Blogsmith

Maddy Osman

There’s a story in even the most boring topics. The trick is to dig deep enough to find it. It’s not enough to consult just one source or one type of content.

Consider video content, infographics, interviews, and more as part of your initial information gathering.

When writing and editing your technical piece, keep asking yourself “Is this something my target customer would actually want to read?”. If the answer is “No”, a rewrite is due until you strike gold.

Zac Johnson,

Zac Johnson

If you want to bring boring content to life, it’s all about using visuals, quick headlines, and breaking apart your content. This is simply one of the best ways to get your point across, while also making it easier for your audience to consume and stay engaged.

With more people using mobile devices and focusing on visuals in social media, this is how content creation and marketing need to be approached as attention spans continue to drop.

Srish Agrawal,

Srish Agrawal

When publishing content on our site or to be shared on social media, we like to focus on infographics and visual graphs.

Many people think you need to have a lot of great internal data to accomplish this, but you can also use industry reports and simply reference them as the source.

Turn this data into an infographic and watch as it appeals to a much greater audience and receives more social shares in the process.

Sumit Bansal, Trump Excel

Sumit Bansal

While the scope for being creative is limited in technical writing, we can think a little out of the box and make our article better. Before writing an article, first, decide the purpose of the article.

If it’s meant to answer a query, it’s better to keep it to the point and try and answer the query as soon as possible. You can take more creative freedom when you are writing an article to engage. One of the things that I have found really effective is using a current trend or buzzwords in your articles.

In one of my articles, I used the data from the ‘Game Of Thrones series to show my readers how to create a dashboard. I could have done it with any boring dataset, but with a little out-of-the-box thinking, I was able to create something that got a lot of responses and engagement.

Since I have to often explain difficult concepts and formulas in Excel to my readers, I try to take practical examples to make it easy. For example, in one of the Excel functions, I tried explaining it by taking an example of a chessboard .

James Nuttall, Ben Sherman

James Nuttall

While the likes of instruction manuals, white papers, and journal articles don’t leave much room for adjectives, quotes or metaphors, creativity can often be fostered in the approach rather than in the actual practice.

Technical writers need to be creative in their way of thinking; what are the most digestible and effective way of presenting the information they are given? How will it be most accessible to all levels of readers?

This process takes a great deal of experimentation, which requires a creative thinker to be able to put together documents that can be interpreted and understood by all ranges of experience levels.

In turn, it often means that documents need to be drafted and re-drafted until the technical writer is satisfied that the documents are accessible for all levels. This can often stretch your creativity further than trying to write the greatest American novel ever could.

Paul Francis, The BHW Group

Paul Francis

It is completely possible to include creativity in technical writing. In fact, we believe creativity is paramount to constructing a great article.

Technical writing can often be dense and difficult for readers to get through if you only present them with technical content.

Finding creative ways to frame your content not only makes your writing more relatable but also distinguishes you from the crowd. Here are some tips we’ve found to help engage readers and boost the quality of your writing:

  • References: When showing example code and samples, use well-known characters, films, or books to make it easier to follow. Not only does this liven up your article, it also leverages shared culture and experiences to convey information in a different way that can make complex topics simpler to digest.
  • Analogies: Use non-technical analogies when possible to lighten the tone of an example or section. Even technical writers struggle to make it through an entire article that only talks about technical things. This practice also helps you avoid littering your article with too much jargon that may impede someone’s understanding if they are not an expert in your field.
  • Story-building: It’s okay to be funny! It’s also more than okay to construct some sort of narrative to the way the content is presented – people love a good story and this is a chance to add some character to your article.
  • Visuals: Whether it’s a diagram or simply a cover photo for your blog, having visuals can break up the monotony of your writing (both literally and metaphorically) and give readers another way to absorb important contextual information on the subject topic.

John Lukaszczyk, Majux

John Lukaszczyk

I do SEO writing for law firms, so I avoid loose or light language as much as I can to keep things serious – but sometimes examples of conduct/situations are a good place to get creative.

Technical writing unavoidably uses complex language, and it’s sometimes impossible not to give your readers a headache. It’s important to lighten up your writing whenever you can.

Most of the time, any sort of narrative passage or conversational language can seem incredibly out of place. However, that doesn’t mean you should wholly avoid it.

Sometimes breaking away from a serious tone is exactly what your readers need. Especially if you’re writing for a tech audience (they’re usually a little less “stuffy”) or writing in-house materials (like manuals or documentation), adding creativity to your writing can keep your readers entertained and focused.

As long as your boss/supervisor is okay with the tone and it doesn’t detract from the tone of the content, go for it.

Justin May, Dock

Technical Writers can absolutely be creative. You often need it when you write documentation for products to imagine how a person will first interact with it. But there isn’t too much creativity allowed in the writing itself.

That doesn’t mean technical writers can’t use their creativity in other outlets. Much like many things in life, creativity is a skill that can be practiced and honed.

David Scarola, The Alternative Board

Based on the research, TAB Vice President David Scarola suggests the following sales tips for B2B business owners:

1. Don’t sell. Teach.

According to TAB’s survey, over half of B2B buyers believe the information they receive from vendors is too sales-oriented.

Win over customers by providing them with the educational resources they need – how your product works and why it’s so important for their industry – rather than focusing on making a sale. By teaching them, rather than selling to them, you create a trust-based relationship.

2. Generate positive reviews of your offering.

One of the best stories to tell about your product or service is a success story. With 93% of business owners turning to independent reviews before making a purchasing decision, it’s a good idea to work with precious customers and online influencers to develop a positive online presence for your product/service.

Third-party validation can make a big difference when convincing a business owner to make a purchase. It removes a lot of the guesswork and potential risk associated with the purchase. A recommendation from a friend, family member, peer, or even online influencer builds a powerful
layer of trust, which may even shorten your sales cycle.

Tim Brown, Hook Agency

Recognize it’s crowded content marketing, take inspiration from the top 3, and take a new spin.:

  • Talking through technical writing with people writing on our blog, or our client’s blogs – we consistently talk about the fact that the content market is incredibly crowded.
  • To poke your head above the crowd, you need to take a fresh new spin on it – get creative in the way you position it, and get to the point quickly, before going more in-depth.

With this formula, and by reviewing all of the top items that currently rank for a particular topic and trying to combine the top 3 in a ‘super article’ you can break through the ‘boring content wall.

Daniel Houseman, Comm-Works

Frequently with technical writing, you are discussing highly complex concepts that people have little or no interest in. In other words, it can get dry quickly. Readers will let their minds drift if they cannot personally connect to what they are reading. Therefore, your writing needs to be both clear and engaging to be successful. This, however, requires great creativity.

Technical writers often need to think out of the box to create engaging content. They must use their creativity to make complicated concepts relevant and fascinating to their readers. One way to approach this is by asking yourself, “How can I make this interesting for me?” If you enjoy writing the piece, chances are people will enjoy reading it as well.

Another way technical writers can generate interest in their piece is by connecting the topic to things the audience knows and understands. Putting complex concepts in the context of situations the audience has already experienced will make your writing more compelling. The connection, however, is not always clear. It is up to the writer to find a creative context that is both relatable to the reader and relevant to the writing. While it may be difficult at times, the final product is much more intriguing to the reader.

Bonus Tip: Define your audience and create a persona.

Technical writers have a certain audience in mind while they create a document every time. Whether it’s a superior, a colleague, or a client, they realize that each reader will have distinct demands and expectations. That is why establishing your target audience from the start and considering them at every stage of the writing process is critical.

Creating a persona is one approach to get really specific with your audience. A persona is a sort of imaginary person that represents all of the qualities of your perfect reader. You may ensure that you’re always adapting your message to the appropriate individuals by taking the time to develop your persona thoroughly.

When writing for a technical audience, it is important to remember that your reader may not have the same level of expertise as you do. As a result, it is important to use clear and concise language that can be easily understood. In addition, technical terms should be defined clearly and unambiguously. Finally, technical specifications and other information should be presented in an easy-to-follow format. By keeping these considerations in mind, you can ensure that your technical writing is accessible to all readers.

Wrapping Up

Writing should never be a chore. The more you enjoy writing, the more you will do it and improve your skills. Remember to follow the guidelines and make them your own when you work on your next article. If you allow creativity and technical writing to go together, they can work in tandem effectively.