Challenges Of The Field

Many technical writers have a background in the arts or other creative disciplines. A major challenge to some technical writers is the lack of creativity associated with technical writing. There is a certain degree of artistic freedom, such as adding and editing images and other graphics, but most of the work involves rewriting technical specifications. Some writers find this technical work boring and monotonous.

Technical writers usually work to very tight deadlines. Often, they depend upon others to provide information, which can be frustrating if material is not delivered in a timely manner. Technical writers must be able to handle constructive criticism. Final documents must be current and technically perfect, which requires peer review, multiple drafts, editing, fact checking, and proofreading. Remember that constructive criticism is part of the business. Do not take it personally.

Technology is constantly changing and evolving. Technical writers must be extremely knowledgeable and keep up with technological advances. It can be frustrating to be familiar with a system that frequently upgrades, requiring a greater learning curve. It can also be frustrating to develop documents about unfamiliar products. However, unfamiliarity can result in excellent work, as the whole purpose is to educate unfamiliar users.

The technical writer must avoid complacency. If a writer specializes in one comfortable niche and the technology becomes obsolete, the writer will be out of work. For example, a writer who is extremely skilled at writing user guides might be reluctant to work on an annual report. Push yourself to take on new professional challenges. Grow your skill set to stay employable.

Freelance and contract technical writers must be prepared for times without work. The writer requires financial savvy and discipline to deal with cyclical employment. Consider developing your transferrable skills as an indexer, teacher, photographer, illustrator, video narrator, reporter, or editor. If you have "more than one string to your bow", you are more likely to succeed as a small business owner.

Technical Writing - Main