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"The writing process"-- a new section in my API doc course

by Tom Johnson on Nov 19, 2021 •
categories: api-docsapidoc-site-updates

I added a new section to my API documentation course on the writing process. The section has six new pages and includes tips on moving through the writing process from beginning to end.

After an overview, I describe these five general steps in the writing process:

  1. Planning
  2. Information gathering
  3. Writing
  4. Reviewing
  5. Publishing

Why did I decide to add this section? After WTD podcast episode 35, where we chatted about the Docs for Developers book, the authors noted that very few guides on documentation take you through the entire writing process from beginning to end. In thinking about that, I realized it was a gap in my API doc course that was kind of glaring.

Last month I also had a major writing project at work that had me immersed in the writing process. So I figured I would add a section on the writing process that included as many practical, inside tips as I could think of, specifically tailoring the content to tech writers creating documentation.

Overall, these six pages total about 15,000 words, so it’s not an insignificant amount of content. But if you’re an experienced tech writer, you’ll likely find most of my advice familiar. Even so, the advice is probably a good reminder about best practices.

Although it’s easy to get sucked into docs-as-code tools and workflows, API specification formats and renderers, and other tech details, I think the writing process — planning, information gathering, writing, reviewing, and publishing — forms the core of what we do. As such, I wanted to be sure to include a section on this in my API course.

You can start reading here: Overview of the writing process.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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