First of all, I should make it clear ? technical writing is a unique sphere that unites writing and technology. If you consider whether it will be suitable for you or not, here are three basic aspects of the technical writing profession.
- You like to work on texts. Technical writing is not only about writing, it?s about editing, structuring, checking word usage and so on. If you have a blog and you like to write, this profession is probably for you.
- You like to teach people. Documentation is like a textbook that navigates people. So, you should be able to write and explain the information to the audience in a clear and concise manner. If you have been working as a teacher, for example, it can help you succeed.
- You like to learn something new everyday.Technical writers always deal with new tools and devices to describe their usage clearly for non-technical people, they read relevant articles/books/style manuals.
If you are still here, moving on, and let?s find out what skills you need.
You should keep 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 set of skills. However, in this article you will find tips that will help every 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. It?s hard to upgrade them but they?re essential for tech writers ? only relevant books/articles and practice can help you.
I want especially to point out one soft skill ? ability to communicate because it?s really important. As I mentioned in my guest post called ?From Translator to Technical Writer?, this job could be difficult for introverts because tech writers communicate with other technical writers, product owners, subject matter experts and developers all the time. Moreover, they not only communicate but also interview people who know the product better. How does it go? Read the article called ?How to Succeed in Technical Writing Interview?.
These skills depend on requirements of a company. However, courses can help you get primary technical skills. Here is the list of posts with the most effective resources for learning:
- Top 7 Online Courses in Technical Writing
- Best Courses/Books/Resources for Technical Writers
- Top 7 books for Technical Writers
- 40 Foundational Books for Technical Writing
What can you do right now?
- Learn about instruments of documentation developing. Of course, there are a lot of them but here are some essential aspects that you should learn: what is MarkDown, RST, DITA, DocBook, AuthorIT, and don?t forget to read about ?docs as code?.
- Learn about the tech writing style. This style differs from the conversational and business styles. Such manuals as Chicago Manual of Style and Microsoft Manual of Style can help you get acquainted with the tech writing style. These volume manuals describe a great number of cases how to use words and sentences right in your documentation. In order to practice, you can read documentation of Google, Microsoft, Amazon and consider how you can improve them.
The answer to the question ?How to become a tech writer?? is obvious ? self-development: read books, take courses, upgrade your personal and professional skills.
What skills will you add to my list?