Re: Tech Writing as a career

Subject: Re: Tech Writing as a career
From: Aahz <aahz -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 1994 18:14:32 GMT

In article <387pmc$1nn -at- crl6 -dot- crl -dot- com>, James E Driggers <jaredle -at- crl -dot- com> wrote:
>I have a bunch of questions to ask those who do technical writing as a
>career. I am thinking about becoming a technical writer, and would like
>to hear what it's like.

I'm on the tail end of my first tech writing job, so my answers will be
more limited in scope from most of your others.

>a. What do you do over the course of a day as a writer?

Writing, editing, reviewing. (I'm the only tech writer, so I shoulder
the full load.) Some illustrating. Some programming. Pester other
people to answer questions. Some QA.

>b. How did you get your first job as a writer?

Friend of a friend.

>c. What kind of skills did you have starting out?

High school english. 4 years of tech support experience (including lots
of tech notes). 4 years of posting to Usenet. *Lots* of different
computer skills.

>d. What kind of skills are needed now starting out?

Depends. Remember that tech writing isn't just for computer software.
Consumer electronics companies, for example, need lots of writers. You
do need strong writing and verbal skills no matter where you go.

>e. What's best/worst part of being a writer?

In my current job, I'm the only writer; as a beginning tech writer, I
dearly miss a decent support network (my job schedule mostly prevents me
from going to STC meetings).

I like the freedom. I like seeing tangible evidence of my work taking
shape in front of me (unlike programming, which mostly either works or
doesn't). I like knowing that my efforts will make it possible for
people to actually *use* my product.

I'm ahead of the hardware development, so I'm somewhat bored, too.

>g. What kind of advancement opportunities are there as a writer?

Depends what you want to advance to. If you *like* writing, I wouldn't
worry about it much.

>i. With strong writing skills, a BA in sociology and much clerical type
>experience, but next to none in programming, what kind of chance do I
>have getting a job as a tech writer?

Pretty good. As with any other position, your chance for success
depends a lot on "luck": be in the right place, at the right time, and
you're a shoo-in -- you *make* your luck, though.
--- Aahz (

Hugs and backrubs -- I break Rule 6
Androgynous kinky vanilla queer het

The best way to get information on Usenet is not to ask a question,
but to post the wrong information.

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