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:
♦ 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?