People often ask me about what I do, so here are some answers. Get in touch if you want to know more.
What the heck is technical writing?
Any writing that helps you use a machine, a piece of software, or other tools. When you buy a new coffee maker, it comes with an owner’s manual. Someone had to write that.
Technical writers make complex systems understandable. You have to be comfortable asking dumb questions, and you have to know your audience.
One of the most important skills a technical writer can learn is knowing how deep to dive. Too shallow, you sound like a newbie. Too deep, you’ll miss the point.
How many tech writing jobs have you had?
Three. After I quit teaching, I wrote for an IT consulting company. I didn’t know anything about IT; they assumed I could learn on the job. The company specialized in assessments, so I got to learn about network infrastructure—switches, routers, firewalls, cabling—while figuring out how to structure really long documents, mostly in Word.
Three years later, I got a job writing user guides for the Bloomberg Terminal. I got to learn and write using DITA, an old-ish markup language for tech writing similar to XML. Once again, I knew nothing about the subject matter (this time it was finance). It was fascinating, and I was working at a large company for the first time. Two years after that, I moved on to Tech, working in cloud security.
Do you know how to code?
Not really. I can puzzle out some stuff.
What do you write about now?
I research issues of cloud security for internal audiences.