I'd Rather Be Writing is now an Alexa Flash Briefing skill

Now you can listen to the latest narrated post on I'd Rather Be Writing as an Alexa Flash Briefing skill. This means you can listen to my audio content through your Echo device. Read more »

Upcoming full-day API documentation workshop in Menlo Park

I'm giving a full-day API documentation workshop on Nov 8, 2018, in Menlo Park, California, in coordination with Scott Abel (aka, The Content Wrangler). There are still a few open spots left in the workshop. Read more »

The Tell-Tale Project — Guest Post by Edgar Allan Poe, Technical Writer

The following is a guest post by Edgar Allen Poe. Poe completed many works of both fiction and nonfiction in his life, including 'The Raven', 'The Fall of the House of Usher', 'Eureka', and most famously, the 'Tell-Tale Heart'. Many are unaware that one of Poe's first jobs was as a technical writer. In this post, he explains some deep conflicts and challenges he had on one project, and how he overcame the challenges. Read more »

Preferring technical acuity over specialized knowledge

In the debate between being a specialist or generalist, there's also a third option: developing technical acuity. A person with a high degree of technical acuity has the technical mindset needed to understand and solve problems across a variety of technical domains. Given the ever growing number of technologies, developing technical acuity can be more advantageous, especially in technical writing contexts since technical writers work with a lot of different technologies. Read more »

Write the Docs Podcast Episode 17: Structured Writing -- reasons and approaches, with Mark Baker

In this Write the Docs podcast episode, we chat with Mark Baker about structured writing, specifically focusing on his new book Structured Writing: Rhetoric and Process. After introducing and defining structured writing, Mark explains the four domains you can add structure: media, document, subject, and management domains. He explains the advantages of working with structure in the subject domain, and why mixing structure across subject and document domains can be inefficient. We also chat about how structured writing connects with SEO and microformats on the semantic web, the limits of structure in Markdown formats, how to implement structure in linking, and more. Read more »

Brainstorming by transposing patterns from one category to another

Last week during an internal writers conference at Amazon, Carla Johnson (co-author of the Experiences: 7th Era of Marketing and other books) gave a workshop that ostensibly was about how to create more persuasive pitches for change within an organization. But what resonated with me a bit more was the novel technique for brainstorming by transposing categories of experience, which despite my background in literature and writing, I had never encountered. Read more »

The ideal number of slides for an hour-long presentation, and other thoughts on preparing slides

When giving an hour long presentation, about 15 slides is ideal. Although having fewer slides might make you panic about possibly forgetting what you want to say, in reality fewer slides gives you more flexibility to narrate your idea journey in a dynamic way. If you have too many slides, it locks you into a fixed, rigid structure that can actually make presenting harder. Additionally, a good essay is often the foundation for a good presentation because many of the rhetorical elements of an essay (the introduction, thesis, evidence, argument, etc.) are reflected in presentations as well. Read more »

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