What I Learned from the Hashnode Technical Writing Bootcamp
As an academic and a teacher, I spend a ridiculous amount of time writing. I always believed that I was pretty good at it and always wanted to write even more online. I was enamoured with the concept of technical writing here on Hashnode, but I genuinely had no real idea where to start, what to write about, or how on Earth I was going to reach anyone when I did decide to start scribbling.
To my delight, Hashnode announced a bootcamp where budding writers including myself could come together and learn from some of the most experienced and talented writers on the platform. They were ultimately Catalin Pit, Omotola Shogunle, Tapas Adhikary, and Victoria Lo, who gave wonderfully insightful glimpses into their writing journeys, their methodologies and thought processes behind each article, and how to fend off the ever-present dragon of procrastination when their motivation levels run low. It was a humbling experience and one I remain immensely grateful for the opportunity to have participated in.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the bootcamp as a whole that I'm looking to incorporate into my own writing here on Hashnode. They're certainly not limited to this, so if you haven't had the chance to check out the bootcamp talks, I'll provide a link to them here once they have been uploaded!
Keep it simple, stupid
My writing is often fluffy and elaborate, making it somewhat difficult for second language speakers of English to read. I'm afraid this is symptomatic of spending so much time in the ivory tower!
Nevertheless, I have made a conscientious effort in my writing to primarily use active voice, as opposed to passive voice, to always explain acronyms whenever I first use them, and to try to structure my writing into clear, easy-to-digest paragraphs with headings and subheadings as appropriate.
Consistency is the key, but value quality over quantity
Write often and write consistently, but provide value in your writing - what can someone learn from you? What unique perspective do you provide? These are all important questions that we can ask ourselves as we decide on a topic to write about and share with the Internet. As someone with a great deal of experience both as a developer and as an educator, I think that this provides me with a unique viewpoint and perspective to share with the rest of the community.
A high quality, consistent blog is an amazing resource for demonstrating not only your commitment to an ongoing project, but both your technical and writing skills at the same time.
From this, I aim to write at least one quality article a week, though I'm currently writing two because of the #2Articles1Week challenge... more on that in a future article!
Branding and promotion
I'm not great at this because I'm not a huge lover of social media - it took a fair bit of convincing for me to come back to Twitter! But in the long run it cannot be denied that it remains a powerful utility for sharing your writing with developer communities and with like minded individuals who will find value in your work.
Sharing your writing on other communities such as freeCodeCamp, Dev, and Medium are also options for furthering the reach of your writing, sometimes even opening up paid opportunities, though personally I prefer that they remain centralised here.
I've taken steps to adopt a unique and consistent design pattern in my images and in my blog design using Adobe Spark, so I hope that I reap the benefit of that down the line as I continue my writing career.
Find a niche
Carving out a niche is a great strategy for building a reader base who will repeatedly come back to read what you've written about. Whether that's about web development, cybersecurity, Python scripting and machine learning, whatever. Establish your niche and maximise upon it.
I'm considering giving this a greater deal of focus in the near future, but it's really difficult when your interests are incredibly broad and you want to write about everything. Perhaps with time I will naturally establish my own niche and my own audience who will appreciate my perspective and the links between the topics which I write about.
In conclusion, I want to once again thank the amazing folks at Hashnode for running such a well coordinated and ambitious remote bootcamp, and wish them the best of success in the future! I look forward to the post-COVID future when we can look forward to in-person writing bootcamps. Perhaps I'll see you there!
Furthermore, I'd once again like to thank the aforementioned writing veterans for their time, their expertise, and above all their infectious passion and inspiration that they provide to all of us within this community. Thank you!