Why You Don't Have to be Good at English to Start a Tech Blog
Thinking of starting a technical blog but you fear that your English or writing skills are not good enough? What were some of your worries when you started your tech blog?
Hello fellow devs and writers! In this article, I want to share (based on personal experience) why you don't have to be a master at English to start blogging as a developer.
The Truth about Technical Writing
Before I started my technical blog, one of the fears that made me hesitate to start was the fear of being unable to write well. I don't really consider myself as a fantastic writer. In fact, during my school days, my English was not great in terms of vocabulary range and the use of literary devices.
English is, after all, a difficult language to learn and master, whether it is your first language or not.
But then I learned what technical writing is. According to Wikipedia,
Technical writing is defined as conveying complex information into concise and clear content.
And so that's when I realized that despite my lacking English skills, I can start writing technical articles and start a blog. Here are some reasons I learned why you don't have to be good at English to start your writing journey.
1. Clarity over Vocabulary
A technical article does not require using advanced vocabulary because it just needs to be clear and simple to convey information. Most of the time, the technical jargon is probably the most "advanced vocabulary" in the article.
What matters most in technical articles is the clarity and quality of the article. The content should be presented in a neutral and non-subjective tone.
It should be easy to digest and understand for the target audience of the article. Hence, it is not necessary to use seemingly profound words from the thesaurus. In fact, if your target audience's first language is not even English, it can make your article more difficult to understand.
2. Direct over Fluff
Unlike English literary pieces, technical articles are conveying information and specific details on a certain topic.
And due to the nature of technical writing, most technical articles need to be highly detailed to include crucial elements into the content. Therefore, it is better to be direct and concise instead of adding fluff and literary devices to these type of written content.
As long as your articles can help readers understand a certain topic, it is a good technical article.
3. There are always tools
Without a doubt, a mastery in English is not necessary to start a tech blog. However, poor grammar and spelling can make your articles less professional and credible.
So it's a good idea to seek help from online resources and tools. Don't be ashamed in using them, as they can help you improve your grammar over time.
The awesome Catalin Pit has recommended some great tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway Editor. I do encourage checking them out.
As for me, I personally use languagetool.org as a browser extension to check for minor spelling and grammar errors. It's always useful whenever I proofread my articles.
All in all, the purpose of this article is to encourage those who are hesitant to write because they think they lack English skills, to start their tech blog.
You may not be excellent at the language but that's okay, because communicating what needs to be communicated efficiently is more important in the context of technical writing.
Also, as mentioned earlier, there plenty of online tools if you think your grammar or spelling is weak. Even if your English is at level zero, you will eventually improve when you start writing more frequently. Practice makes perfect.
- Good grammar and spelling beats fancy vocabulary and metaphors/ literary elements.
- Aim to convey information as concise as possible.
- Technical articles are not like novels. There's no need for fluff, be direct and neutral.
- Tools are available everywhere. There's no shame in using them.
Thanks for reading. I hope it is helpful in any way. Please do like and share this article around. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. Cheers!
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What if ... I decided to write in my language?
I know, many developers can read articles in English, but in my last two jobs I found some partners who don't speak or read other languages. So, for them, I'm starting to write in Spanish 😳
The good thing about blogging is that you can write the articles as you talk. For people struggling in English, this might be a great start to get comfortable with writing.
Also, the Dev community is filled with people wanting to help, you got to find them, and I am sure they are happy to help.
I like how short and concise your article is Victoria Lo
I'm #1 fan of your articles!
Short, concise and straight to the point.
I've discovered this tool languagetool.org and love it. I'm not affiliated with them, I don't know who they are, but it is fantastic for tech writing.
Great article. Thanks for sharing the insights. Writing more in English is the way to get comfortable with it. As you mentioned, tools play a big part in shaping it up.
I have also realized, we as writers start catching the errors ourselves after using the tool for a while.. that is amazing and an indicator that we are improving on language and grammar!