Technical Writing Is Not for Everyone

Technical writing and editing are not for everyone. In fact, the majority of technical writers I’ve worked with over the years either fell into technical writing or wanted to write fiction. Let’s face it, technical writing is boring, dry, and uninspiring, unless you’re crazy about computers and how they work. Then technical writing is interesting, even fascinating because you’re often writing about products that are new and about to change our lives.

I was one of those who fell into working in the high-tech arena. You might say I entered it with more than a little trepidation, even kicking and screaming a bit. I credit the legendary Stewart Alsop II, with helping me overcome my aversion to computers.

We started working at InfoWorld magazine within a day of each other. Stewart was our new editor-in-chief. I was an editorial assistant and knew nothing about computers except how to make them crash (although I didn’t understand just how I managed to do that).

Stewart met with each member of the editorial staff in an effort to get to know his new team. When I confessed my love of publishing along with my deep reservations that I may have chosen the wrong magazine to work for because of my strong aversion to computers, Stewart encouraged me to give InfoWorld a chance. He told me that as long as I knew how to write, he could teach me about computers—if I’d just give him six months. I was doubtful, considering my strong aversion to computers.

That was August. It took only three months before I was explaining computers to anyone who would listen, thanks to Stewart and his faith in me, and the Apple Macintosh, which was introduced the following January.

InfoWorld’s editorial staff received a Macintosh to review prior to its release, so we could write about it in time for Apple’s big announcement. I fell in love with the Apple Macintosh immediately. I’d finally met a computer I could understand. It spoke my language. And it didn’t crash.

A year and a half later, I opened my own editorial consulting business working as a technical editor at such high-tech companies as Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi America, and many more—and I never looked back.

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