Thursday, December 27, 2012

What do I like about Technical Writing?

In quite a few interviews I've attended over the last 3 years (being a contractor, interviews are almost a part of the ritual with each new project/contract), I've been asked a question that I am yet to find a perfect answer for.
"What do you like about Technical Writing?" 

Usually this question comes around towards the end of the interview, so it's even harder to answer it accurately, as you'd hope your answers in the earlier part of the interview sufficiently indicate your passion for writing and skills in creating clean and effective documentation.
I've often wondered what I like about Technical Writing and the short answer is: it's hard to specifically say.

Perhaps it's the fact that I like learning about new things (systems/processes) and that Tech Writing gives me a good opportunity to do this.
Working with some great organisations in vastly different sectors, I've picked up (partial-to-almost complete) knowledge of some really good processes and systems. Not only have I had a chance to learn about applications for radiology clinics, universities, utility/power distribution companies, but also have had a good opportunity to learn about various processes that make an organisation operate efficiently.

Perhaps it's the range of documentation I've had an opportunity to work on.
Over the last 5 years, I have:
a. Worked in Engineering firms, creating user guides, process maps and help documentation.
b. Been a part of a technical writing team creating user help and other technical documentation for over 20 applications within a share registry/finance domain.
c. Worked in Utilities, creating work instructions, policies and procedural documents and maintaining user guides.
d. Worked with a University, developing work instructions for their student management system.
e. Worked in the Services industry, scoping, creating and publishing a National Procedures Manual.
f. Volunteered to be a part of a documentation sprint, creating and updating a developer tutorial.

Perhaps it’s the teams/people I have worked with.

Working with some really knowledgeable people and in teams, I’ve enjoyed the dynamics such teams offer in an organisation. More often than not, I have invariably been a part of change within the organisation, and the challenges these present have been enormous. I’ve worked in and with Learning and Development teams, HR, Finance, Software Development, Training and other Project teams.

I have also worked as the solo Tech Writer on quite a few projects, and this arrangement has been extremely beneficial in terms of understanding my own strengths and weaknesses. It has also given me some unique perspectives on how to go about gathering information and creating user documentation.

Or perhaps it’s a combination of all these above.

What do you like about technical writing? Would love to listen to your views on what draws you to this profession, and more importantly, what keeps you here.


  1. Swapnil:

    It is good to see Marathis, such as us, getting into Technical Writing. I liked the way you construct sentences, which in most cases are short and simple to understand. I followed one of your comments on, by Tom, and searched about you.

    Good to note about you. Keep writing.

    1. Thanks for your comments Suyog. It's not uncommon to see Maharashtrians in Technical Writing in India perhaps, thought I must admit I haven't see a lot here in Australia.