Guide: How to become a technical writer
The top 3 hybrids
First, let me clarify: technical writing is a unique sphere that brings together writing and technology.
If you’re wondering whether or not it will be a match for you, here are three basic aspects of being a technical writer.
- You love working on text. Technical writing is not just about writing, but also about editing, structuring, checking word usage, etc. If you have a blog and like to write, this profession is probably for you.
- You like teaching people. Documentation is like a manual that makes people navigate. So you need to be able to write and explain information to the public in a clear and concise manner. If you have worked as a teacher, for example, this can help you succeed.
- You enjoy learning something new every day. Technical writers always deal with new tools and devices to describe their use in a clear way for non-technical people, they read relevant articles, books and style manuals.
You have to bear in mind that technical writing includes different types of documentation, for example, product feature documentation, API documentation, user documentation, marketing documentation, and much more. Each type of documentation requires its own set of skills. However, in this article you will find tips that will be useful for any technical writer.
Soft skills include attitude, communication, creative thinking, work ethic, teamwork, networking, decision making, positivity, time management, motivation, flexibility, problem solving, critical thinking and conflict resolution. These are difficult to improve but essential for technical writers – only relevant books/articles and practice can help you.
I want to focus on one non-technical skill, communication skills, because they are very important. As I mentioned in my guest post “From Translator to Technical Writer”, this job can be difficult for introverts, as technical writers are constantly communicating with other technical writers, product owners, subject matter experts and developers. In addition, they not only communicate, but also interview people who know the product better. How does this happen? Read the article titled “How to ace a technical writing interview”.
These skills depend on the requirements of the company. However, classes can help you learn primary technical skills. Here is the list of positions with the most effective resources for learning:
Learn about documentation development instruments. Of course, there are many, but here are a few essentials you should learn: what is MarkDown, RST, DITA, DocBook, AuthorIT, and don’t forget a little “docs as code” hook.
Learn the technical writing style.
This style differs from the conversational style and the business style. Manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style and the Microsoft Manual of Style can help you become familiar with the technical writing style. These manuals describe in many cases how to use words and phrases correctly in your documentation. To practice, you can read the documentation from Google, Microsoft, Amazon and think about how you can improve it.
The answer to the question “How to become a technical writer?” is obvious: self-development: read books, take courses, improve your personal and professional skills.
This article is translated from/ is originaly writen by “Guide: How to Become a Technical Writer”.
Although oriented towards paid courses, I found this article slightly pungent. Its illustration in particular