My advice to junior technical writers


Much of my technical writing career has been spent working in the trenches directly with technical teams. Unfortunately, this means I don’t know any junior technical writers anymore.

I’ve seen a lot in my time as a technical writer, and if I did advise new or junior technical writers, it would be the following:

  • Accept that most everything your college professors told you about technical communications is wrong or plain not feasible in today’s budget-strapped work world.
  • The Idiot as a User Advocate is an industry myth.
  • Save your writing samples religiously.
  • Diversify and don’t stick to writing just one kind of document.
  • Try to work in a real department at least once in your early career. You’ll have plenty of time to work as a solo technical writer in and out of dysfunctional environments until you burn out, get out of the profession, or retire.
  • You can’t make a career out of templates and style guides so take extra care when setting them up for a project.
  • Write and edit for your audience NOT for yourself. If you don’t understand something it doesn’t necessarily mean your audience is in the same boat. Ask questions! Do your research!
  • Technical accuracy is king! You are going to have to learn something about what you are tasked to document.

What advice do you have for new technical writers?

Photo by on Unsplash


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