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 technology and how it works. Then technical writing is interesting, even fascinating, because you’re often writing about products that are new and about to change people’s lives.
I was one of those writers 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 and Apple’s 128k Macintosh computer, with helping me overcome my aversion to computers.
Stewart and I 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 spectacularly (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. He asked me to give it six months. Although I had serious reservations, Stewart was very certain, so I agreed.
In only three months I was explaining computers to anyone who would listen, thanks to Stewart, his faith in me, and the 128k Mac, Apple’s first Macintosh computer.
When InfoWorld’s editorial staff received a 128k 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 it immediately. I’d finally met a computer I could understand. A computer that 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 writer and editor at such high-tech companies as Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi America, and many more—and I never looked back because technology was finally interesting to me.