Content with the Technical: 10 Essential Reads for Technical Mastery

Happy New Year! I wish all of you a productive and safe new year!

Before we get into the booklist, I’d just like to take a moment to thank all of the new followers! Thank you for leaving your email, we are getting closer and closer to hitting our first goal: 100 followers!

So, let’s get Content with the Technical (huh, huh?) in 2021!

Today, we are going over my 10 essential reads for developing your skills as a technical, copy, and creative writer. Although these particular roles are quite unique from one another, I have found that learning and practicing the skills from each has benefited my writing overall. I know some may be thinking, “I already know how to write, what can these books do for me?” That’s a valid concern, but these books encapsulate years (often times, decades) of industry-specific expertise, well past the fundamentals, and into the most efficient tactic available (the META).

Let’s see how these titles can improve your writing, too!  

10. The Technical Writing Process by Kieran Morgan | A title that could just as easily fit into my #1 slot! Easy to digest, this book explains technical content creation from both a top-down overview and a step-by-step iterative process. A great beginning for any new technical writer or anyone curious about this lucrative profession. 

Content with the Technical, book 10 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(Technical Writing Process, Kieran Morgan 2015)

9. How to Write Copy that Sells by Ray Edward | An informative and remarkably compassionate book that outlines some copywriting history and essentials for modern writers. This is not a definitive text for current best practices, but nevertheless an informative read. 

Content with the Technical, book 9 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(How to Write Copy that Sells, Ray Edwards, Morgan James Publishing 2016)

8. WordPress: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald | This text pulls double-duty for anyone interested in designing and launching their own websites (a must in this digital marketing world of ours) with some best practices for creating content that people actually want to click on!

Content with the Technical, book 8 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(WordPress the Missing Manual, O’Reilly Media 2014)

7. The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly | Pretty self-explanatory, this is a great reference book for effective, market-focused writing. More, tech writers absolutely benefit from writing concise, highly-engaging content such as the kind taught in this book. A technical narrative is so much easier to follow and comprehend when it is written with audience engagement in mind.

Content with the Technical, book 7 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(The Copywriter’s Handbook, St. Martin’s Griffin 2020)

6. On Writing by Stephen King | He’s not for everyone, but if he’s for you… King walks you through the process of building the most important thing every writer needs to find success: a writing habit. This is meat and potatoes. Writing is a skill that needs to be practiced daily. More than that, reading needs to be the other daily habit. Full of advice, King really takes the time with this book to ensure the reader knows exactly what they are getting into with this whole writing business thing.

Content with the Technical, book 6 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(On Writing, Scribner 2010)

5. Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury | More like the above, Bradbury sings you a catchy-tune about all the mystery and wonder writing has waiting for you. This is a great ‘pick me up’ book for anyone feeling the churn. Bradbury fills his readers with Dandelion wine, whispered pep-talks in the ear, and then renders the majesty of writing in its full glory!

Content with the Technical, book 5 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(Zen in the Art of Writing, Joshua Odell Editions 1996)

4. Crawl, Walk, Run: Advancing Analytics Maturity with Google Marketing Platform by Michael Loban and Alex Yastrebenetsky | As you may have guessed this book gives insight into the backend of website management and analytics, including high-level strategies for cultivating the ideal user experience for your customers. A great read with complicated topics addressed in a clear, easy-to-follow voice. 

Content with the Technical, book 4 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(Crawl, Walk, Run, Lioncrest Publishing 2020)

3. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White | The ultimate guide for proper writing, any educator will be familiar with this book, and many will still start their students here. The real trick to producing meaningful technical narratives, copywriting, and even poetry is first adhering to all of the rules… then you are totally allowed to break them. See what I did there? No? Don’t worry, I had no idea what it meant either when I first started taking writing seriously! This book holds all of the answers for structure and form.

Content with the Technical, book 3 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(The Elements of Style, Pearson 1999)

2. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Ads | This book was mentioned during my culturama panel appearance, and I can only direct you here, where you’ll be able to see Ajay Orona (an accomplished freelance writer) and myself discuss the ins and outs of making money as a writer, including a great breakdown of this book by Ajay himself. 

Content with the Technical, book 2 for technical writing, copywriting, and creative writing
(Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, Wiley 2016)

1. The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker | An excellent universal writing guide, Pinker takes his time to explain, in stunning detail, the seemingly infinite amount of potential pitfalls that surround English grammar. More, this book challenges some of the conventions outlined in the other writing books mentioned in this list, requiring a bit of consideration to determine the best approach.

(The Elements of Style, Penguin Books 2015)

It’s a joy to announce a new weekly segment (in addition to our Sunday writing guides) titled Content with the Technical: Apply the Guide! We will start of this new segment with a deep-dive into this title, The Sense of Style, beginning in March.

I would love to see some of your favorite titles, anything that has helped you grow as a writer… So, don’t feel like your entry would need to be some high-level technical guide book. Simple fiction can help us just as much as any dense ‘How-To’ guide depending on the writer!

If you like what you are seeing here please leave your email below, like, and comment. Please, tell a friend. If you happen to know someone who is looking for a career move or maybe struggling as a writer, send them my way. I am happy to help. Send your emails to jeffrey@jeffreygraessley.com

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Published by Jeffrey Graessley

Jeffrey Graessley is an R&D technical writer, poet and blogger (right here) @ Content with the Technical! Subscribe for weekly updates every Sunday morning!

7 thoughts on “Content with the Technical: 10 Essential Reads for Technical Mastery

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