Technical Writing, Documentation, and Training

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About: Rachel Shoap

By Rachel Shoap

To many people, just hearing the words “technical writing” evokes feelings of fear but mostly boredom. “What kind of person can tediously and meticulously write all day long while simultaneously lacking even an inkling of creativity and originality? I could never.” So said my technically (untrained) mind. Whenever I wrote in high school or college, my papers were riddled with profound metaphors and dialogue that formulated beautiful stories and character development that I was proud of. How could anyone choose to write technical manuals? They’re so bland! How could they knowingly choose a topic and style of writing that prohibits that creative flare that most of humanity longs for?

What exactly do technical writers do? For the most part, they put together information, precisely explain the significance of it, take the reader through the necessary steps to complete a task, and disseminate it to the masses in a way the masses can understand. This
got me thinking. In its own right, technical writing has to be relatable and at the same time diverse. A technical writer has to strategically relay information while considering the mindset of the consumers of that information, as well as their ability to follow directions.

My ability to understand and dissect information presented to me may be completely different than Barbara’s, the 72-year-old grandma whose grandkids bought her a new cellphone for Christmas. Technical writers are tasked with making sure the information that they provide to consumers is relatable while making sure it is accurate and easy to follow.

Making something “easy to understand” truly takes inventiveness to another level. The ability to take this most technical information and make it understandable for people from different backgrounds, educational levels, and ages calls for the most creative of writers, even if writers that meet the social standard of creativeness do not think so.