HOW TO MAKE $$$ AS A … “TECHNICAL WRITER”
Writing is About Thinking
BY: Kent R. Mishra
The powerful writing is not the selection of special words, but the formation of good thoughts. This is the difference between an elegant prose written by a renowned author and an amateur writer. Call it a great writing! It is in fact great thinking. To achieve any trajectory, words must reflect value-added thought.
The reflection of good writing can be a visual part in any form, be it script, an article, an essay, an advertisement or a user manual. Especially user manual is supposed to be a first date with the product. While writing the user manual, you can be bold enough to explain the features and detail with minute intricacies. You might need to have the answers contained in that manual what a novice user may need to know.
But still there will be people who would still persist in search of your inner beauty. However, this is not the way to bet. Microsoft has consistently been trying to address everyone’s questions to make it competitive and have advantages. Still they may have messages.
Great manuals can sell products. There are good tutorials which can make you understand the product so well that time and again you would love to continue with the same products. This can be referred to MS Word users who are patronized working with old to the latest version alike.
So here is the answer that good manual can sell your products well. Obviously to write the good manual you need to have good writers. To select good writers if you are looking through supplemental manuals for sale in the book stores and trying to find out who the writer is then you may have chances of taking wrong decision in the process.
Years of experience and lots of money wasted on commercially produced books need not guarantee the performance of the writer. A truly useful, well-written software book is rare, even from authors who are highly recognized in the press.
This obviously makes it clear that technical writers are not in the Technical Business. Technical writers are in the education business. There is always something for them to learn from other educational material, especially in how complexity is unraveled. Of course, a technical writer has to know a bit from a byte, and a lot more. The most common misconception is that technical writing is a descriptive, mechanical process. In reality the core function is to teach.
If you feel that real writers write because they are compelled to, not because they are being paid then you are mistaken. It will be even more immature to think that most technical writers who have never otherwise written cannot otherwise write.
Technical communication is not primarily about writing. It’s about teaching and communication. It’s not about telling a story or expressing your thoughts or feelings. Organization, layout, simplifying complex concepts, explaining why and how to do things, and identifying with users on their own terms are much more important than finesse with language. Knowledge of the English language is of course a primary indicator of a good tech writer like knowledge of C++ statements and syntax are primary indicators of a good programmer. Of course knowledge of the fundamentals is required, but applying the fundamentals to produce a usable work is an entirely different matter in both professions.
The best technical communicator is a technical person, is a subjective issue to argue. However, technical writers are the writers who have the rare ability to communicate and teach through indirect means such as paper and online media.
But its very difficult to merely narrate a profession which is entirely dependant on the personal caliber of a person. It is really a tough question to ask who can make a good technical writer. Many good writers who are able to write good story, poetry and fiction have many a times proved to be good technical writers as well and at a time bad writer too. Its all dependant on the personal interest what you could make of yourself.
As a broadly and variously experienced technical writer familiar not only with the profession, but also with the history of and research in the area of technical writing, the facts are widely known to everyone that until recently (a decade or so), engineers well-versed in their vocations but not in English composition, spelling, and writing, wrote America’s technical manuals. However, technical writers and technical writing are gradually gaining worldwide recognition as a profession. Americans tend to buy a product, rip it from the box, plug it in, and turn it on. They do not read the manuals, regardless of who the author is. On the contrary, other people, such as the Japanese, tend to buy a product, open the box, remove and read the manual, remove the product from the box as per the instructions, and install and operate the product as per the instructions.
Consider that effective technical writing is an art unto itself, an art based upon grammar, style, consistent terminology, clarity, concision, factual accuracy, information mapping, layout and design including fonts, indents, point sizes, illustration specifications and locations, table designs, and more, sentence length, translation concerns, documentation- and illustration-software selections, usability testing, spell checking, editing, proofreading, subject-matter-expert reviews, document validation (testing the manual against the actual product), indexing, resource scheduling and deadlines relative to product-release dates, print-vendor details, and myriad other facets. Clearly, technical writing is not few simple concerns, as you would lead your readers to believe.
Most of the people in the technical writing profession believe that the reader’s time is too valuable to waste with inane attempts at cute humor, wit, or lengthy, chatty exposition. Many tech writers prefer to define an audience and their expected knowledge base early on, and then write to that audience but that can not be taken as the bench mark. By reading a manual, if the reader is able to fix the problem without wasting much time, kudos to the writer for clear and crisp writing. However not all writers would be able to produce all manual equally effective. Not all software technical writers could be effective hardware writers, and vice-versa. No one writer is all things to all people. Even though, exceptions are welcome and its good to the technical writing profession to have technical writers of varied aptitude to write equally well. It’s the quality of good thinking to transform into good writing.
About the author:
Masters in Fisheries Management, have written and published articles on Fisheries, Agriculture, Medical, Pharmaceutical, political, self Improvement and Career. Work for an IT company as a Technical Writer.
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