I’ve been a technical writer for one year today. To celebrate, I brought in a 54-piece marzipan tray and Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Perhaps more importantly, though, this website went live!
There are few genres of writing worse than the Blog Launch Post, so here's my one-sentence kickoff nugget instead: I haven’t found many active tech comm blogs by a) women or b) relative babies to the field, so I made one.
And in the spirit of my workiversary, here are my biggest takeaways from my first year.
1. It’s a lot better on a team
I was a little wary of writing in a self-described collaborative environment when I started at my organization. Our product team in particular is known for sharing doc ownership more than others. Before I started, I had never written in a setting other than staring at a wall in a quiet room for hours.
I’ve come to look forward to the collaborative aspect of our workflow—especially at a high tech company where both product and toolchain are pretty complex. Speaking of which:
2. Confusion is queen
Not a day has gone by when I haven’t been confused about something. This isn't a total or unwelcome surprise by any means. I enjoy swimming through confusion. But as soon as I realized it definitely wasn’t just me being a noob, but rather the nature of this career, I became much bolder asking all those Dumb Technical Writer QuestionsTM that shape documentation.
Every day I’m confused, but every day I get to figure out something new.
3. The non-writing parts are actually pretty fun
If your job is like mine, you’ve probably thought about how much time you spend on things that aren’t actually writing. We test, we troubleshoot, we spend a great deal of time clicking on things. This was my biggest qualm when I started. I knew I could write and research well, but the rest was less certain. Luckily, though, learning documentation toolchains and testing software features have proven to be some of my favorite aspects.
4. Liberal arts saved my ass
I’m not trying to drag STEM education here, but my experience at a liberal arts university is integral to how I approach my work. My professors advocated holistic yet exacting review processes, taught us to be thorough in gathering information and relentless in refining our craft. Almost every project was open-ended and interdisciplinary. My creative writing workshops made me immune to ever taking feedback personally. And the hugely varied subjects I studied made me comfortable with that constant pulse of confusion.