Ifyou would like to take up a career in the technical writing field, you should be mindful of the specifics of this job. All technical writers are different, that goes without saying. And, still, there are common personal characteristics most of them share. Keep reading to learn more and to figure out where you are standing in terms of these personal traits.
As a technical writer, you need to be curious and research-oriented. Because, honestly, you will have to do tons of research. If you are not a curious person, this kind of job can bore you to death. Being a technical writer is being both a QA specialist and a support engineer. First, you are testing out some functionality and then you are looking for a solution and trying to explain it, just like support would do.
To be able to write comprehensive texts, one needs to be able to concentrate. This is why documentation teams are often the quietest at work. Focus is very important for not losing the train of thought. People will make noises and talk, this is inevitable. So, you need to train yourself to stay focused no matter what. There are some tricks you can use, like, music, for example. But not any music will work. Read more about lifehacks for technical writers that can make your life easier in this article.
We have just mentioned that tech writing teams seem to be the quietest. There’s a paradox here. As little technical writers can talk to one another as much they might need to talk to other employees. For example, communication is always flowing between tech writers and SMEs. Quite often there’s a need to talk to devs and QA to clarify something or report a bug. So, prepare to do some amount of talking, too!
Pulitzer Prize Nominee
This will also work if you have actually won a Pulitzer Prize instead of just being nominated 🙂 Jokes aside, of course a tech writer should excel at writing. User manuals are supposed to be well-structured, concise and logical. Special attention should be paid to lexical units. There is no room for obscurity and double meanings.
Also, technical documentation has its own style that has been developing for a long time. Any technical writer is supposed to be following some common rules. For example, the shorter — the better. Long complex sentences should be avoided not to cause confusion.
Another thing — help topics are always emotionally neutral, if you need to emphasize something, you can do this by means of text editing — bold/colored fonts, warning boxes, etc.
Being a Teacher at Heart
The main purpose of technical documentation is not to just describe the subject matter, it is to explain how it works so that other people understand. Be always mindful of who your target audience is. This fact alone will influence the documentation authoring process greatly and increase your efficiency if you come to the right conclusions. Here is an example for you: writing for novice users requires explanation of all basic terms, while technical documentation for pros will focus mostly on more complex things.
These are only several personal characteristics a successful technical writer might possess. If you have any additions to our list, feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below. We are absolutely sure that a job should make people if not happy, then, at least, feel good about themselves. Allocate time to learn yourself more first, and then you will be able to find the occupation that suits you best.
Good Luck with your technical writing career!
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