Oh, the things we do

This week brought an amusing blog post by my colleague, Colum McAndrew, about how technical writers can handle the question “What do you do?” It’s a rejoinder, he says, to people who say “but I thought you just wrote stuff.”

So besides just writing stuff, what does a technical writer do?

Well, here are a few things that crossed my desk in just the last couple of days:
Feather pen for writing
♦ A client requested some special DITA-OT formatting so that their customers can tear a page out of the Operator’s Manual and use it as a maintenance log.

♦ A prospective client wants help tweaking the standard topic XML schema for DITA, to accommodate a custom use case for text reuse.

♦ A colleague asked for volunteers to usability-test an application prototype that she’s developed.

♦ Another colleague is mulling an idea from a business partner to develop a specialization for documenting policies and procedures.

♦ A writer on my team is recommending changes to the engineers to make the product’s user interface easier to use.

All of that, and there’s also a set of drafts due Friday.

Oh, and the three colleagues I mentioned? One (Colum) is based in England, one in Finland, and one in India. I don’t think I’ve met any of them in person. Yet I feel comfortable talking with them on Skype, through email, and on social media, and I appreciate the insights and good humor they bring to the conversations. Working on distributed worldwide teams: that’s another thing technical writers do.

When you’re not just writing, what do you do?

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One thought on “Oh, the things we do

  1. Colum McAndrew

    Thanks for the plug Larry. Your post perfectly fills in the gaps. Of course what has hit my desk is entirely different, yet strangely similar, to you. Different because we use different tools and methodologies. The same because we are both deal with strategy of content delivery. We both deliver content, yet the requirements of our audience are very different. In short it is our ability to use our skill set to adapt to the environment we work in that makes our jobs interesting.

    Reply

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