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Want to Be a Technical Writer? Here’s How to Start From Scratch

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❶I attend as many conferences, seminars, and conventions as I can afford and fit into my schedule.

The Technical Writer’s Block

Working For Someone Else
by Ruth Nickolich

I began mine by getting a loan from my local bank for my first computer to set up a home office. It was a Micron desktop , the fastest computer in town! That was nine years ago. I now have a nice office, a sizeable staff, and all the work I can handle, most of the time.

Not everyone starts his or her own business the way I did. I started small and have maintained somewhat steady growth over the last nine years.

My background is in education. I have a degree in English and Journalism, but I worked as a technical writer with a local company for a few years, and later as an independent contractor before starting my company.

I made the decision to form my business while working as an independent contractor. I wanted to look and feel like a real company and to separate my company and personal assets. So I took the dive. Another thing that motivated me to start my own company was my past experience working for large companies.

I knew I hated company politics —the meetings about meetings, the undermining by co-workers of other co-workers, all those types of situations that go on in large companies.

At that time, a friend of mine was working as a technical writer in New York. We had been sending copy back and forth to each other for editing before giving the final versions to our clients. Since we were already helping each other, I proposed we start a company together.

We worked as partners for about five years before going our separate ways due to family issues. My partner now had a new baby and needed to devote more of her time to family. So at first, I had to put in some pretty long weeks — sometimes 80 hours — to keep up with the demands. After I incorporated the business, I spent the next eight years working from my home office. And, even companies that do have such a department may not have the tools, the expertise, or the resources to complete a project on time and within budget.

This is when a technical-writing company like ours can fill that need. Managers and CEOs are appreciative when you help them meet a deadline and stay within budget.

Technical writing has changed and will continue to do so according to client needs. Anyone starting a technical-writing company will need to realize this and remain flexible enough to keep up with current trends. This includes keeping your staff well-trained in the newest software and in the latest practices. Years ago, a tech writer was a tech writer. Now a tech writer must also be a graphic designer, an editor, a proofreader, a content modeler, and must really work to stay on the cutting edge.

The subject can be tangible, for example a software program, or abstract, for example steps needed to finish an office process. The language and tone will be affected by who you are writing for. Is it someone who:. The failure to consider the reader and their needs is often a reason for poor technical documents.

The essay and academic styles learnt at school and used at university are not appropriate or helpful in writing a technical document in the modern business world. Too much use of jargon that readers may not understand can be a problem. Once you have defined your reader and purpose, you need to gather the information required and plan your document before you begin writing. A Mind Map is a useful tool for planning your document.

It will help you gather and structure your information on one sheet of paper or screen. Also, the Mind Map structure is free flowing, so it uses both sides of your brain. Always use Plain English where possible. Use a glossary where necessary. Use short sentences with only one idea per sentence. Paragraphs should have only one topic in them. This index measures sentence length and polysyllabic words.

Documents with shorter sentence lengths and fewer long words are easier to read. A good technical document should have a GFI of 14 or less. This also measures the use of long words and sentence length. The scale is The higher the score the easier the document is to read. There are many courses available that teach technical writing skills.

If you write a lot of technical documents, it is worth going on such a course. Use specific titles and lots of white space. This helps the eyes to stay focused and aids understanding.

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This article from Writing Assistance, Inc., your source for writers, discusses how a tech writer can start a technical writing business from scratch. Registering with Writing Assistance can provide technical writers with work.

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English classes in business and technical writing will teach you how to create documents for the work courses are available?Business Writing (English ).

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Technical writing is a category of technical communications—which is a broader field that involves documenting, sharing, interpreting, and/or publishing specialized medical, scientific, biological, technological, organizational and/or other information. People who want to be technical writers often ask me whether business writing classes will help them. I answer yes—because strong business writing skills will help them be better technical writers. But what is the difference between technical writing and.

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Technical writing is an area of business writing that can be very daunting. With the right approach, however, the problems are easily overcome. Things to Consider Before starting a freelance technical writing business, perform a self-assessment. Ask yourself the following 10 questions.