How Tech Writing Helps Me as an Author

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Talk about Andirons in the Fire! 

Busy! Busy! Busy!  My current writing project has multiple components that are interrelated yet which require separate and distinct organization.  And while I’ve been able to delegate some of the work, ultimately, as the lead creator, I have to oversee the project as a whole.

More than Cleaning Your Closet.  Managing a large complex project takes more than basic organizational skills.  Fortunately, I’ve a wealth of experience in this area.

Learning to Walk.  Early in my corporate career, one of my jobs was tech writer.  As this was during my company’s heyday, we were cranking out proposals at three and four a week, often with simultaneous deadlines.

Complex, large international deals.

Remaining organized was paramount to success.

Not to mention to a good performance review.

Let Me Help You with That.  Obviously, I didn’t walk in the door with the skills I needed.  I was fortunate to work with some incredibly gifted individuals who were happy to share their knowledge and experience with me.

Especially since I was making their lives easier by offloading work from them.

Learning to juggle.  Over time I came to learn how to prioritize, when to push back, and, perhaps most importantly, when something didn’t need to be done.

Yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question.

Whatcha sayin?I learned to listen.

Which includes learning to hear what isn’t being said as well.

 What the #?!% is THIS?  I learned to translate.  This was one of the more important skills since I routinely got hand-written information with zero punctuation.

 Literally, one long sentence that filled up the entire page sent to me over a FAX machine that may or may not smear or jam – think Office Space.

I then turned it into something a CXO would not only understand, but would find easy to digest.  Read:  NOT BORING!

I tutored engineers in college, teaching them to better express themselves through the written word, so this part wasn’t so new or unfamiliar.

Hike!  I learned how to participate in team meetings.

You know, meetings to plan meetings, to plan another meeting.

I learned to ignore in-fighting and other distractions.

Please stop chewing the ice from your Super Big Gulp!  It sounds like nails down a chalkboard!

Try This! Not That!  One of the most valuable lessons I learned came when an angel disguised as a coworker pulled me aside and told me the software program I was using to create the graphics was not only outdated, it was soon to be replaced.

He also warned me there was someone sniffing around for my job and a good way to differentiate myself from the would-be usurper was to learn the new software.

He helped me load and configure it.

I had to learn to use it on my own, after hours.  Late late after hours.  Lots of midnight I’m the only one in the office other than the cleaning people work.

This did double duty as on-the-job training for becoming a software consultant.

A position I attained after long hours and a hell of a lot of hard work.

 The lesson that pays?  I make sure I work with the most up-to-date tools.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving.  Though I’ve utilized many of these skills throughout my writing career, it is only as I tackle this current, incredibly complex and involved project, that I find myself ever so grateful for my time spent as a corporate tech writer.

Good written skills are always in style, regardless of your profession.

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