Growing As a Technical Writer

June 7, 2010 at technical communication, work

Technical writers generally enjoy their day-to-day tasks whether it is developing documentation prototype, writing instructions, reviewing a document (of self or others), or planning for a document publishing or release.

My experience suggests that technical writers are so used to ‘feel-good’ factor that sometimes, the less experienced technical writers are ill-prepared to handle issues, conflicts, and question marks. Even if somewhere internally, they agree that ‘the change’ is in the interest of project, they are not ready for this “change”, when things are difficult. Beginners may respond differently, but they tend to follow how others ‘respond’ in that work culture. And it is an unwelcome sign.

I keep on emphasizing that it is very important to have a sound platform, and to understand technical writing in wider perspective rather than considering it as job of merely writing instructions for user manual. It does not call for a complete personality makeover (neither I encourage it nor it is required); however, individuals need to work on their thought process.

Some useful points for growing into a good technical writer are:

  • Writers’ block – Deal with it.
  • Understand the pulse of your project team.
  • Know your ability.
  • Smile. Your reviewer’s job is to find mistakes in your document.
  • Agree to disagree.
  • The smallest mistake can cause the biggest escalation.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect document (almost).
  • Love your document till you send it out.
  • Always Zero-in your focus on customer requirement and the basic objective of document.
  • Keep it Simple.
  • Always follow the style guide.
  • Be consistent in your thinking, planning and writing.

I recall that I read a few of these points somewhere. If anybody can help me connect to that, I would love to give credit to that source and person.