Some people think that being a technical writer has to do with being technically sound. They venture, “You must have done some degree in computers then?” or “You write what? Code?” Others are confused – “What do you write about?” or simply, “How much do you write in a day?” Or more direct, “Who reads the stuff you write?”
I’ve seen people’s faces going from ebullient to grim in ten seconds. Still others prefer not to say anything at all – they just nod their heads in an all-knowing manner (while I know perfectly well that they haven’t got the foggiest idea of technical writing). Some people’s expressions seem to suggest that they think of my breed as if we were aliens from outer space. And I’m pretty much convinced that another group think that writers, technical or not, must have their heads examined.
I sometimes wish I had some power to read peoples’ thoughts on this subject – I’m sure most of it will not be very complimentary. Some expressions seem to say, “Poor girl! Maybe she did not have her father’s gift with numbers.” or “I hear her husband is in the software line – he must be an engineer.” I’d love to tell such people that he’s a technical writer too!
But who knows, perhaps some do think in a complimentary fashion, “She has her mother’s gift with words, I suppose.” Just wonder if there’ll be a day when my breed gets this reaction, “Wow! A technical writer? That’s so cool!” Till such time, I’ll fight my battles and console myself saying that people are indeed getting to be more aware of technical writing and the role of technical writers in various industries.
In my next blog post, I will talk about the top three things that people ask me about technical writing for software applications. That’s of course, when they get beyond their head-nodding and not-so-optimistic looks and actually begin to see that people can actually build decent careers in this line of work.
The author is co-founder and Director, Content Development at Steta