Back in the day, it could be said that no one was really interested in how things were written, they just wanted to know the facts. After awhile certain rules were introduced—grammar, syntax, spelling, basically a guideline was created for people to follow essentially creating a universal language that everyone could understand. Because the message conveyed was still focused on the facts, a certain structure of informing the receiver of the who, what, when, and where,. Facts! It’s all about the facts, and that’s at the heart of technical writing.
It used to be no one was interested if an “I” was dotted or a “t” was crossed or if there was a missing period. However, we all know how different a sentence can come across if these types of grammatical technicalities aren’t addressed properly. I imagine things may have gone seriously wrong when General Washington may have written something like, “Shoot that solider over there is a spy!” vs “Shoot! That solider over there is a spy!” (He didn’t actually say that, but you get my point, right?)
The Art of Storytelling
During the “extra, extra, read all about it days” when newspapers were the Internet of the day, the news was entertainment. Then the written word became more of an art inspiring authors like Shakespeare, Chaucer, Alighieri, and the like. The written word became more of a way to cleverly tell the news that otherwise wasn’t so easy for people to hear. This new form of literary arts was just a visual regurgitation of storytelling only now, it was a bit more sophisticated with form and structure.
So what’s the point in knowing all of this? In order to revive your technical content, you have to be able to write it creatively, but to do this, it’s important to understand why there’s a need for technical writing and creative writing, how they are able to stand on their own, and most importantly, how they can work together.
Expectation of Technical Writing
Technical writing is a straightforward way of explaining what something is and how it works. Essentially, it’s about explanation, instruction, and direction. For example, when you are searching for information about how to write better content, you are going to search for an article about just that. You want to know how to do it—instruction!
Now, I can give this information in an informative step-by-step process, but it’s going to be boring and it may not stick with you. It’s going to be something very similar to gathering resources for a term paper—you’ll have the info but that’s about it! Here, you’re most likely to remember my exaggerated Washington example over anything else in this article. However, that ridiculous example can work to trigger memory to the meat of this article, which is how to creatively write technical content!
What Makes Creative Writing Interesting
Lightly put, creative writing is about “the ridiculous”. That is not to say that creative writing is bad and not to be taken seriously. In contrast to technical writing, creative writing’s content goes outside of the bounds of traditional technical writing that is categorized as professional, journalistic, and academic. One way to look at creative writing is that more personality is put into it, whether it’s character development, an emphasis on narrative craft that spins it into a type of stylistic literary vehicle of distorted truth.
The Art of Combining the Two
There’s a saying that in order to know where you’re going, you need to know where you came from. The same applies for writers, even those with exceptional talent that seems to come natural. It is important to know and understand the foundation of the written word in order to evolve it. What’s a cherry on top of an ice-cream sundae without the foundation—the bowl!
So What Have We Learned Here?
Technical writing is the foundation of any kind of copy content we write and in order to make it better, we must respect the way our words have been conveyed and properly structured before we tear it apart and start replacing it with new ways of writing. Think of it this way, when a surgeon performs a heart transplant, he or she must understand the physiology, anatomy and physical properties that are connected to this organ before cutting in replacing it with another heart or device that works just the same or even better!
Take care to respect what works, even if you don’t like the content. Study and dissect it. Figure out what it is that attracts readers to that article. It’s not always the actual content itself, but the way it’s conveyed. Think of these movie franchises. How many ways can Spiderman, and The Avengers save the world? How many ways can Sylvester Stallone reprise his role as Rocky over a span of four decades and be successful? What do movies have to do with technical content? It’s all written word. A motion picture is nothing but a visual representation of a screenplay! It’s all about restructuring your informative content and instruct and explain it from an angle different from the norm. In other words, don’t do what everybody else is doing, but respect what has been done.