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[OT] What Got Me Interested In Writing

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A contact on LinkedIn asked me this morning what got me interested in Technical Writing. This was my reply.



Hi, Cindy,

I'm a Technical Writer by day and Creative writer in my free time. I've always been a writer ever since I was a kid but I didn't begin getting paid for it until I was 37. Before then, I'd tried my hand at the usual grab bag of jobs before I landed my career, and I backed into that late and in the weirdest possible way. I can tell you my story but I don't recommend my particular path to working in Technical Communications.

I've always been a reader and after awhile, you get a feeling for how to represent thoughts on a page to share with someone else. I was working as a desk clerk for a small R&D firm in Madison, WI. While there, an older woman in the company took me under her wing and took advantage of all the free time I had in my position. She asked for my help with her projects which required learning FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and Visio. I'm a quick study when it comes to software and I was soon editing documents for her and producing content. After a couple of years the company decided they wanted someone in that position who knew Accounts Payable and we parted company by mutual agreement as I was enjoying the writing work and had no interest in Accounting of any sort. I slapped 'Technical Writer' on a resume' and put it up on monster.com. I got my foot in the door on a six month contract gig and I was off to the races. That was twenty years ago and I've never looked back. 

I don't have any college degrees, but I what I do have is the knack. When it comes to TechComm, there are two things which are more important than anything else - the ability to talk to people who are more technically inclined and translate their knowledge to the screen, and the ability to clearly frame technical details in writing (through original creation or more typically by editing content from others). I think of myself as a liaison between Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and end-users. There are those who are more detail-oriented than I am but I have always been very good at communicating with people who know stuff and repackaging their knowledge in a way other people can easily use.

Honestly, if you can talk to smart people and edit their knowledge into clear content for others, TechComm is comparatively easy and I'm a little surprised they pay me as well as they do for this work.

I pinch myself every day when I go into work. There are ebbs and flows in this job - some days I am less busy and some days I work from sunup to sundown to hit a deadline, but I wouldn't change a thing and I can't imagine doing anything else.

I see this is a long answer to a short question but I think you can begin to see a little of the passion I have for this work. It's simply the most fun I've had doing anything.



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Wow, that is really interesting, Johne.  I'm guessing you fell into it!  Twenty years ago is a long time to still be satisfied with a job!  

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