This post is part 2 of the article series on the topic that most tech writers will find relevant. We are going to talk about the most dreaded challenges and difficulties a technical writer faces. We’ve come up with some more today. Check out the first part of this short series here.
Whom am I Writing For?
Historically so, the task of identifying the target audience is associated with sales and marketing teams. But tech writers need to know their audience this just as much! One and the same user manual needs to have different versions sometimes: for beginners and pros, for users of a basic product version and for those with a more advanced one. Also, don’t forget about user manuals having multi-language versions. And, in each case, the target audience can be different. While creating multiple outputs of the same technical writing document can be easily solved by single-sourcing techniques modern online documentation tools provide, figuring out the reader audience requires full-blown research!
And we are not talking about the one connected to overwhelming news feeds, social networks and myriads of new gadgets popping up. Technical writers have tech fatigue of their own — a combination of complex (often IT- and science-related) topics they are working on and long hours spent in front of a computer.
On the one hand, meetings and other group discussions seem to be annoying as they make it hard to concentrate, but, at the same time, they can provide a temporary change of occupation needed after hours of staring at the screen. Oh, well, the screen staring while either doing research or writing technical documentation… such is the job of a tech writer alongside eye strain and mental fatigue.
Working Long Hours
The fact that technical documentation is bound to a product life cycle affects help authoring processes a lot. One of the least pleasant side effects being — fickle deadlines. What the final product will be like depends mostly on the dev team, so, technical writers, basically, don’t get to set their own deadlines, they rather just kind of inherit those from the developers. That’s why documentation teams are known for staying late to prepare user manuals for an upcoming product release. To make your life a bit easier, check out the post on time management skills for technical writers, hopefully, it will help you avoid working long hours as much as possible.
Complex Research Topics
In general, to become a technical writer one doesn’t need any special education or degree. But, there is a trend in today’s tech comm to value technical skills more. And one of the reasons for such a trend to exist is complexity of research material. Yes, this is one of the biggest challenges tech writers are facing. The thing is, you need to deeply understand the topic to be able to create clear instructions for users, there’s no way around it. One can say — well, technical writing can’t be all that difficult, it’s not rocket science after all! The problem is — it can literally be rocket science.
Did any of the challenges sound familiar? Some things we’ve mentioned here can really get on one’s nerves, but, gladly, technical writing is not at all about that. When you overcome these difficulties, you can see that help authoring is actually a pretty rewarding occupation with a very admirable goal — helping people. So, as they say, ‘it really do be like this sometimes’, but, don’t get discouraged. With the right mindset, overcoming such challenges will only add to your growth as a real tech comm professional!
ClickHelp – Professional Online Technical Writing Tool. Check it out: https://clickhelp.com/online-documentation-tool/
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