Pitfalls of Being a Technical Writer

We are mostly trying to show the bright side of being a technical writer on this blog. And, we honestly believe this is a great role with a nice entry-level salary, good possibilities for personal and professional growth, an occupation that can help you get into basically any industry.

A lot of good stuff is going on in the techcomm community all year round — meetups, conferences, and other events all over the globe. But you know there’s always the second side.

Today we will take a look at what makes technical writers cringe at work — the pitfalls of being a techcomm specialist.

Deadlines

If someone thinks their deadlines are bad, let them imagine that their due dates depend on other people that have their own crazy due dates.

In the software development cycle, everything spins around devs. They set the tone for the whole sprint. Other teams are mainly forced to fit in with the dates left till ‘the golden build’ or any other build according to their devs.

Last-minute changes they make affect everyone and technical writers are suffering a lot because of this, as they need to bend over backward to deliver help topics in time.

Nobody Knows What Technical Writing Is

It is still a challenge to explain to people what you do. Technical writing has been going on for hundreds of years (or even thousands)! Remember DaVinci? His side hustle was creating user manuals describing his own inventions, tools, and processes. We even called him on this blog the greatest technical illustrator who ever lived.

And till this day, this occupation is overshadowed by other roles. A salesperson, an IT developer, a marketer…these jobs do not require explaining, unlike technical writing.

People Think You Are a Huge Nerd

After you explain to another person what technical writing means, on very rare occasions will they think that what you do for a living is exciting. Grammar, terminology, user manuals … this doesn’t sound sexy at all. Well, at least being a nerd is still kind of trending!

Staying Focused

Hours of research leading up to hours of writing require maximum concentration at all times. If this sounds exhausting, it’s because it is. Intense thinking activity can cause stress and even things like headaches. So, every technical writer has their tricks to stay focused and not feel overworked (regular short breaks, relaxing music, going for a walk at lunchtime, turning on warm screen filters when working in the evening, etc.).

Limited Workflow

Sometimes it feels safer to stick to an old workflow not to turn a team’s work processes into a mess. Or, maybe, managers don’t feel like they have enough resources at the moment to change anything even when it becomes increasingly harder to meet deadlines and avoid hold-ups.

A lousy workflow usually leads to lost documents, missed due dates, panic, and confusion. Workarounds and crutches sprout like mushrooms. Tech writers are spending more time micromanaging their tasks than actually doing something useful.

Using a HAT That Doesn’t Fit

This is a terrible pun, but a help authoring tool should be fitting! So many workflow defects arise solely out of an online documentation tool that doesn’t cover a documentation team’s needs.

For example, when your technical documents have a printed version, and you need to manually change layouts and styles before printing them every time. While ClickHelp could help you so much because you can preconfigure style files for every possible output you have!

Conclusion

Is there anything that gets on your nerves in particular connected with your career in help authoring? Let us know in the comments.

We hope that this article will not scare away potential tech writers, though 🙂 Help authoring is a challenge. Still, it is a very satisfying job, especially for those open to new knowledge and love writing!

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

Source: https://medium.com/level-up-web/pitfalls-of-being-a-technical-writer-c4fd539b4bab

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ClickHelp – Professional Online Technical Writing Tool. Check it out: https://clickhelp.com/online-documentation-tool/