TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: How did you get started in tech writing? From:stevefjong -at- comcast -dot- net To:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, SteveFJong -at- comcast -dot- net (Steven Jong) Date:Tue, 19 Aug 2008 14:38:31 +0000
I am a second-generation technical writer. My father worked, among many other things, as a freelance writer, and settled down as a technical writer at Raytheon.
In school I loved to write, and did well with writing assignments. In college (Boston University) I took a dual major (physics and astronomy) that left little time for "fun" courses; the only completely elective course I took in four years was an English class. But my physics lab reports were, shall we say, thoroughly written...
Also, I loved my limited exposure to computers there, and got my first exposure to interface-design issues. (The BU mainframe operating system had a text editor that didn't prompt you to save your file when you quit. So if, say, you were entering photometric data as tuples of ten-digit numbers, and you were distracted by your beautiful blonde friend, you could lose everything you'd worked on for the last, oh, two hours. On the other hand, you could also earn major brownie points for sympathetic listening when she said that she'd had a hard time with her homework and you suddenly burst into tears...!)
When I graduated, with a scientific degree and a lifetime teaching certification (which expired many years ago--harrumph!), I knew I had no chance of a career in physics or astronomy without a Ph.D, which by then I knew I had no chance of earning. I wanted a job as a high-school teacher, as a staff member for Sky and Telescope (as if--!), or, because I knew about the field, as a technical writer. I had a serious interview at a high school in northern Vermont and an offer from Honeywell Information Systems (back when they were #2 in computers behind IBM). I had a chance to write about, and work with, computers. Honeywell was close to home, and they offered $11,700 to start, which I wouldn't earn in that Vermont town for ten years!
So, I took the job because of the money and location, but I looke for the job because of familiarity and, I think, some affinity. It's proven a good choice.
ComponentOne Doc-To-Help gives you everything you need to author and
publish quality Help, Web, and print content. Perfect for technical
authors, developers, and policy writers. Download a FREE trial. http://www.componentone.com/DocToHelp/
True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-