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Technical Writing As A Competitive Advantage
A framework for impactful technical writing
This blog is part of my career guidance series
Strategy god Michael Porter wrote
“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”
Unfortunately, we are always competing.
Earlier I have written on how to get in data science - guide.pratik.ai - but I haven’t touched on how to have your own differentiating factor. This post is about one of the techniques to send out clear signals to others that you are exceptional.
Writing is a competitive advantage.
Many already know this.
Only a few understand what writing actually is.
If you do something a few times, it’s a hobby. If you do it every day, its a habit.
I want to help you get into the habit of writing impactful technical writing with this framework.
I have been writing for years but I didn’t know what writing is until recently.
Only when people started giving me feedback, I realized what is good writing.
It is like they say in startups…
You will know when you have hit product-market fit 🚀
What is good writing? We need to have a numerical metric.
Writing is considered good …
If it gets more reads (not views) or adds less known information to global content.
It is by definition that impactful writing gets more reads!
Although if you write something which can be used only by a few people, it might not receive many views but is still good writing. I will touch this in more detail later.
I will cover 3 types of writers to illustrate what it means to write better.
Type 1: Write for myself
These are whimsical writers.
These writers are a slave of their intuition rather than a framework. These people seldom make impactful writing. If they do, it’s by random luck.
How do I know?
I started technical writing 3 years back. For 2 years I wrote whatever low-quality ideas that came to me. I wrote without structuring my article. I wrote without researching what others say on the same topic.
I wrote duplicate low-quality content in my own words. Who gives a shit?!
I hardly got any views. Nobody cared to give me any feedback.
This happens with many people. They start writing as a logging activity and then get burned-out eventually.
I kept writing because I was a stupid writer interested in saying …
“I have a blog. Do you?”
Example of such blog titles
Get started with python
How to write a neural network
How the transformer works
These topics already have enough blogs in the market and you are entering a marginal improvement game.
Type 2: Write for others
These people hunt for ideas people want to read about!
They are intentional writers.
Rather than just taking the first idea that comes to them for writing, they let it run through a checklist.
Has anyone else written on this?
Is the available writing enough to understand the topic in question?
Can I add significantly more to the topic?
You write only if the idea passes the above criteria.
Example of blogs from my practical learnings
You can also summarise some research papers to bring out less known things to the reader.
Don’t write because you read a few blogs and now you are just going to rewrite them and make it look your own.
Type 3: Write for impact
These people write from their own experiences.
They met hurdles while doing a project. The available blogs in the market weren’t enough. They see a writing opportunity.
Their learnings might not be needed by many people in the industry; but since it’s less known valuable information, they will write on it.
From Shanon’s information theory perspective and optimizing global information
Any writing that adds rare and useful information,
→ reduces the entropy of the universe
→ which means it reduces the unpredictability of the future
→ which means it leads to faster progress of the world.
Example of blogs from my practical learnings which has a niche audience
Even before I wrote these, I knew it will consume time and might not be read by many.
But if a friend needed a guide on making a language model, I can point to this. Also, some researchers will find value and stumble across this less-known information.
Writing should be a product of frustration. not just a product of learning.
If you end up learning something valuable,
consider yourself lucky
because it’s a writing opportunity.
Write what is needed. Write with an intention. Write to create an impact.
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