The word ‘technical’ brings in your mind pictures of complicated reports, user manuals, medical documents, annual review reports, etc. A great many people are also clueless about what technical writing entails.
The gaps in the knowledge are often filled by misconceptions; however, there is much more to technical writing than just writing highly scientific and systematic topics.
If you are worried about whether to accept a technical writer job because it might just involve technical writing, then need not worry.
A good place to start off would be with a technical writing certification, which will not only help you hone your writing skills but will also give you an added perspective on the role of a writer in an organizational setup.
Technical writers are a mixed breed; they are both creative and practical writers. It will not be a boring job and will foster great creativity in you.
To help you make an informed choice, mentioned below are some misconceptions about technical writing that need to be busted.
Myth#1 You need a strong technical background to be a technical writer
The word ‘technical’ in technical writing refers to the style of writing and not the content. For being a technical writer, you need not know a software inside-outside but just be able to write about it easily for users.
A moderate amount of research before writing about it will be enough to convey information to your readers.
Those who have prior technical experience might have some added benefit as compared to those who do not.
But some relevant experience, dedication, and learning on the job is enough to pursue technical writing professionally.
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Myth#2 It is a copy and paste job
Many believe technical writers are just expected to obtain information from one source, paraphrase it, and create a new document out of it. However, this is not true, and each project requires research.
It becomes important for the writer to understand and process the information in a particular way and then create useful and effective documentation out of it.
Myth#3 It is an easy job
No job is easy if taken seriously and done with dedication and patience. Technical writers during the release phase of a product can be extremely busy.
Often, they have to deal with last-minute product functional changes as well as multitask if one or more product is being launched.
Like every other profession, they also have to meet strict and sometimes unrealistic deadlines.
Due to the misconception that technical writing is an easy job, it is often thought technical writers are not of much value in an organization.
On the contrary, they are an important link between the product and the customer, and without them, the entire system can fall apart.
Myth#4 Technical writing job is all about writing
Technical writers do not spend all their time writing but doing other tasks also like researching about the product, understanding the customer base, designing graphics for product packaging, keeping themselves updated with the market, etc.
All this is the important groundwork, and only after successful completion of these steps, the writer can begin the writing process. Amongst all these responsibilities, a technical writer spends only a fraction of his time writing.
Myth 5# Technical writers do not get paid much.
Technical writing is both a creative and practical job, and not many people can strike the correct balance between both. Professional technical writers who can tackle it are valued highly and paid pretty well.
It is a huge myth that technical writers do not get paid much. The average salary of a technical writer is enough to live a decent life.
Myth 6# No space for professional growth
Technical writers in big companies are not only responsible for handling tasks after the product has been made, but they also play an important role in the product developmental stage.
Technical writers are expected to work in tandem with the developers, designers, testers, manufacturers, etc.
Their in-depth knowledge about the scientific, technical, and practical aspects of the product comes in handy during all the stages of product development.
Technical writing, hence, is not a stagnant career. It offers a lot of opportunities for both professional and personal growth.
With the right work ethic, determination, and hard work, you can succeed to great heights as a technical writer.
Myth#7 Technical writers are solitary people
It is not just for technical writers, but authors are also perceived to be lonely and quiet people.
This is, however, a huge misconception and completely false. Authors and writers thrive on communication, which is then reflected in their work.
Working in a company, a technical writer must build rapport with designers, illustrators, developers, programmers, editors, etc., to be able to work on the same project smoothly.
Without these collaborations, it would be extremely difficult for a technical writer to do his/her job. Hence, technical writing is more about communicating and less about writing.
Myth#8 Writers cannot handle negative feedback
It may be true that no one loves negative feedback, but technical writers thrive on criticism. The client needs to give candid feedback for the technical writer to deliver precisely what was asked.
Through an honest exchange of opinions and feedback, a smooth communication channel can be formed between the writer and the client, which is very beneficial in the long run.
Myth#9 English is the only language technical writers need to know
Gone are the days when only countries in the western world were part of the consumer market.
Now we all live in a globalized world that is developing at a fast pace. Every country is part of the consumer market, and English is not the only dominant language.
Product descriptions are now written in both English and regional languages.
Technical writers are also hence expected to be bilingual to be able to cater to the market demand. Writing product descriptions and manuals in both English and the local language is mandatory now.
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We hope the myths mentioned above have helped shatter your misconceptions about technical writers.
If you are thinking of starting your career in technical writing, do not hesitate but make sure to diversify your skillset as you move forward.
There are certain certifications, such as a product management certification, that could add value to your resume and set you apart from the rest.
Lastly, the work is creative, fulfilling, and will offer a lot of opportunities for professional growth.