A lesson I learned as a contract technical writer

daria-nepriakhina-21925-unsplash
As a favor to an old friend,  I spoke to one of their friend’s kids who got laid off and was forced to go into contract IT work so they could keep paying the bills.

Here is one question and answer that stuck out from our phone call:

Them: What do you find true about contracting?

Me: The very people who will criticize you for the tiniest mistake will be the same people who take credit for your successes and good ideas after your contract gig ends.

Unfortunately, depending on the organization, it happens to full-time employees too.

Reflections on my technical writing career

pablo-garcia-saldana-94058-unsplash

I was once asked in a job interview: “Why do I stay a technical writer when it must be such a dull and boring profession?”  After the meeting when I was peeling rubber out of the parking lot, I took a few moments when I was decelerating to think about some of the more interesting moments (at least to me) from my career:

Continue reading →

My advice to junior technical writers

rawpixel-com-558597-unsplash

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:

Continue reading →

Learning new software: A personal retrospective

michal-kubalczyk-505207-unsplash

When I was in college, I took an on-campus job in my college’s computer lab that I still consider to this day to be a very formative experience. The director of the computer lab helped me discover the technology chops that I still carry me to this day. He had a penchant for scouting student employees from non-technical and liberal arts areas of study like English, Education, and Psychology. He is one of the only people in my academic and professional past I call a mentor. When I found a home working with technology, I gave up my goal of becoming a journalist for becoming a technical writer. College was tough because of my dyslexia, but my job in the computer lab charted a new course for me that I am still following today.

Continue reading →

An alternative perspective about taking meeting minutes

people-coffee-tea-meeting.jpg

I was talking to a recruiter once who asked me how I felt about taking meeting minutes. The first thing I said was “I think meeting minutes are overrated because I’ve rarely if ever seen them consulted again by meeting participants. When is the last time you consulted meeting minutes after a meeting was over?” While we both laughed about my response, I was quite serious and didn’t know how serious I was myself until well after the call was over.

Continue reading →

Lessons learned from working as a computer book industry technical reviewer

mari-helin-tuominen-38313

I was a computer book technical reviewer earlier in my career. It was a freelance gig, but I still consider the work one of the more formative chapters in my professional writing career even though it wasn’t writing work.

Computer book technical reviewers sometimes called technical editors are responsible for ensuring the technical accuracy of information technology book manuscripts. The work taught me to pay attention to technical details, which in turn went on to influence my work as a technical writer and freelance writer.

The lessons I learned include:

Continue reading →

6 ways to sabotage your technical documentation

markus-spiske-148030
Every job hunt and even unsolicited discussions with recruiters during the past few years brought me more tales of organizations continuing to have issues producing and maintaining technical documentation. It is not isolated in one sector, and I keep hearing the same problems repeatedly. This has been a real disappointment for me over the years I was a contract technical writer and now that I have a staff technical writer job.
 
Developing technical documentation isn’t fun. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be such an afterthought. Things aren’t made any easier with a technical writing profession that is fragmented on the actual role of the technical writer.
 
Here are some ways organizations sabotage their technical documentation:
 

Continue reading →