Latest posts by techwriter (see all)
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For one thing, you really do not need to be an artistically creative person to become a technical writer.
Forget about plot, dialog, character, original concept, etc. Actually someone quipped “if it ain’t boring then it ain’t tech writing.” That’s harsh but there is some truth in it too. Technical writing is certainly not about flowery descriptions, emotional rhetoric and linguistic pyrotechnics at all.
If you like explaining hard-to-understand processes and concepts in a plain language and with a consistent vocabulary, if you like simplifying complex processes and make them easily accessible, then you’ll enjoy technical writing while saying goodbye to your financial worries.
It’s the kind of writing job that you can retire from with a secure nest egg, at an age when some of your writer friends who insisted on trying their luck with poems or screenplays might still be waiting tables.
There are two “downsides” (if one can call them that) that I can think of to tech writing:
1) You’ll never get any bylines. So if you are counting on making your name a household item or win an Oscar, you’ll be very frustrated in tech writing. This is not a job for ego aggrandizement and flashy personality trips.
2) A great majority of technical writing jobs require you to be present on the premises due to the need for constant interaction with the engineers, managers and other corporate departments. A tech writer always writes as a part of a team, in close consultation with other project members. Thus there are very few hi-tech “telecommuting” technical writing assignments that you can perform from your home office.
Besides knowing how to write well, having a good command over MS Office Suite is usually a sufficient qualification to confidently apply for an entry-level technical writing position. You can learn the rest as you go along if you can learn technical concepts and systems quick enough.
Depending on where you live and the local economic conditions, you’d be surprised at the number of employers who would be willing to give a novice tech writer with no track record a head start in technical writing.
Writing is not starving. Ask any technical writer and he or she will probably wonder why the idea even occurred to you in the first place.