Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Any technical writers out there? Tell us about your career, what you do, what you don’t do

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I’ve been intrigued lately with some things I’ve been reading about technical writing and technical writers. As far as I understand the job, you could almost think of it as a writing equivalent of “magician.”

A good technical writer has the ability to organize, categorize, and simplify jobs and equipment so those of us who barely know there’s a difference between CAT5 and CAT6 can understand and select the equipment we need. (I THINK those are two designations for some sort of computer network cabling — see, I told you I barely know the difference.)

In a braver, more desperate moment I once applied for a job as a technical writer. I’m pretty good at understanding and explaining complex tasks in simple terms. I’m a pretty organized person. So I went happily into the Human Resources Department at a local high-tech company and applied for a technical writer position they had posted. The company makes cable connectors and various sorts of switches for office networking environments.

About half way through the courtesy interview they gave me, the HR director and I both knew I wasn’t going to fit. That’s when I discovered “technical writer” implies some expertise in mechanics, science, math, and all those other classes I either never had or didn’t do well at.

How about those of you reading this? Any technical writers out there? Tell us about your work — what you do, what you LIKE to do, what you dislike most about technical writing. Enlighten us, please.
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