Does authoring help topics make you an author? We believe it does. And although maybe everything you are creating along the lines of technical documentation becomes the property of the company you are working for, it is more about how you are perceiving yourself.
The market is demanding, even on this blog, we are often writing about stuff like whether you need to be an IT specialist in order to create software documentation. But, since it is the Author’s day, we want to talk about something different this time around: why any technical writer has the privilege to be called an author.
We Are Not Robots
On November 1, the National Author’s day is celebrated by millions of people. Both authors and the books they write are praised. What about help writers?
With technical advances like neural networks and AI research entering the scene, it may feel like the end of technical writing done by humans is nigh. Even simpler stuff like single-sourcing can make a help writer feel redundant. Seems like help topics can be done by computer-driven rearranging of text blocks.
Well, this is not entirely true. There are certain types of technical docs where no serious human supervision is required, but they are not many.
The human brain is a very powerful tool we seem to have come to underestimate. Just like an author understands how to use words to influence the audience, technical writers are using the same toolset provided by the human mind to gently push its readers in the right direction. No artificial intelligence is intricate enough for that.
It Is Still Creating
You probably know the feeling when a text just flows. It is a very nice sensation. If you ever tried writing non-technical stuff than you know that with user manuals it is very similar. This is also creating something just using rules. Which does not need to be seen as a restriction of sorts, not necessarily. If you were writing a fiction book, you would have to follow some rules again set by the genre, the publisher…
Help authoring is not the same as book writing but these are easily comparable. You have an idea, you have the target audience, you choose the best means to transmit it through the communication channel. Your task is to guide readers through the ideas and make sure they understand you perfectly, isn’t it like in fiction books?
Moreover, technical writers require excellent writing skills which again leads us to the conclusion that they have much more in common with ‘real’ authors than one would think.
It is sad to hear when technical writers are underappreciated in the development cycle. Their input in product success is enormous. They create what here in ClickHelp we like to call a bridge between the company and its clients. Technical documentation is always on the front line, that’s where a lot of clients will go if they face an issue. Besides, the support team is going to use the docs maybe even more than clients. Support lives by user manuals. At the same time, docs are a great deflection technique.
Internal documents serve as a backbone for the whole business: handling employees onboarding, regulating workflow processes, company rules, etc. Technical writers play a huge part in a business using their creative skills. Can they be considered authors? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. They are not just authoring documentation though, they are the authors that help the company grow and prosper.
Good luck with your technical writing!
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