Writing With Purpose

As part of my ongoing effort to respond to requests, today’s topic comes via my friend Kimberly, who suggested I blog about “Writing for a purpose. I’m generally bad at choosing a topic.” More specifically, she was seeking inputs on “Finding a deeper sense of purpose in technical writing. Staying inspired to share knowledge in a somewhat rigid context.” Repeating yourself can wear you down if there’s not a lot of room for creativity, but I have thoughts anyway. Hope this helps, Kimberly!

Keeping Things Fresh

If you keep writing the same content enough times and you lose perspective or start thinking, “Haven’t I already said this before?” After eight years of blogging on the business of technical writing, it’s inevitable that I’ve repeated myself, especially when I committed to writing twice a week. That’s how, among other things, I end up asking friends for content suggestions. However, if I’m in a work environment, I can be constrained by the nature of my work.

So how do I keep the writing from getting stale?

Fortunately, even if the type of work you do remains relatively constant, there are always little things the appear that can affect the way you approach it. For example:

  • Has there been anything in the news lately that would affect how your content is handled? Example: a new breakthrough in your industry might make parts of your work easier–or in danger of becoming obsolete!
  • Has your organization hired a new person or people with a different approach to doing the work? How will that change your operation going forward?
  • Has your organization completed or started a project? If you’ve completed one, what were the results? If you’ve just started, what do you have to look forward to?
  • Have you acquired new tools or techniques to improve the work? How will that affect what you’re doing?
  • Is someone who’s been with the organization a long time retiring? What have they accomplished? What wisdom have they acquired over the years?

In all of the cases above, you’re looking for an “angle,” something new, something that’s different from whatever your status quo has been. Even in status-quo environments, change is inevitable due to any number of factors:

  • People coming or going.
  • Technology updates.
  • Process changes.
  • Organizational or corporate restructuring.
  • Accomplishments/goals changed or met.
  • Changes in the legal environment.
  • Changes in the organization (or broader) culture.

Human work–especially in technology-heavy fields–is becoming ever more complex, so there are always different perspectives you can take, if only to keep yourself engaged as a writer. The trick, of course, is to find angles that interest you.

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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