Content with the Technical: Active Reading – Curiosity Feeds Effective Communication

(Photograph courtesy of Sincerely Media via Unsplash)

The worst thing a new writer can do is fail to read. From creative types with lines filling the margins of every notebook to public relations executives trying to put out any number of potential fires. The writer is only as good as their habits, and without fail, every effective writer first begins as a strong reader.

Unfortunately, not everyone is going to have a passion for reading, but that doesn’t excuse us from establishing a baseline, just something to feed our curiosity. What better way than with polished, interesting prose? 

Seems simple, but all too often a writer misses this fundamental step and everything suffers as a result. 

Set Goals:

For a quick list of recommended reads, especially as a new technical writer, click here for a top 10 list.

There is no way around the benefits of setting a goal. Here, we can mark progress to identify new benchmarks, segment complicated programs into smaller tasks, and gain access into more nuanced realms of information— the likes of which are usually safeguarded with industry jargon.

Slow and steady is a great starting point, especially if reading isn’t a normal pass-time. Like anything new, it can be challenging to really get going, but with a little good old fashion gumption… hmm, perseverance. The benefits will quickly become evident and our writing will flourish.

Stay Consistent

Given the current state of the world, consistency is not the easiest thing to come by, so it’s quite understandable to struggle with this aspect of our new reading goals. It’s easy to forget that reading, even a few pages a day, counts towards the goals we set. 

Something is always better than nothing and… either way, it all happens one page at a time.

Becoming a strong reader is not something that we can just wake up with one day, but rather it demands fundamental changes to the way we approach learning. Routines can help reinforce these new practices, but it will always come down to priority. 

Keep Track:

Tracking our progress can come in many different forms, the most typical expression comes from a simple reading journal or log. This can be a physical notebook or an ongoing Google Doc. It just needs to be a place that we can record our findings.

This is not a formal reporting, but rather just a place to jot down our first impressions or anything that stands out for us. These little entries will also reveal potential opportunities for us to dig deeper into information that has already sparked our curiosity. 

Additional research never hurts… it may even inspire us to do a more thorough analysis and create our own content based on our findings. This could easily turn into an excellent contribution to a new writer’s professional portfolio.

More on that later. 

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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!

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