Technical Writing: Is It That Technical?

effective technical writing

The term “technical writing” can be a bit intimidating to some of us. After all, it conjures up ideas about equations, formulas and long, multi-syllable words that only scientists can pronounce. That’s why, when we are offered an opportunity to take on an assignment that falls under the heading, many of us are perfectly willing to pass. The truth, however, is that some sorts of technical writing are more about technique that technology.

While some of the jobs filed under the technical writing heading are legitimately difficult, most are not. Some are simply cries for help from a person who has the science smarts, without the word smarts, looking for a little help. After all, some of the most brilliant scientific minds in history only managed to scrape by with a minimal passing grade in English Composition. In many instances, they’ve written the piece. They just need a writer to make their material “readable”. You can do that.
Some technical writing involves a little bit of research and a little bit of technique. If you are well and truly terrified of technical jargon, then you might be better off opting out on these. If, however, you keep an open mind and don’t mind doing some research and then a bit more research, you can probably handle the assignment. After all, you aren’t performing the experiments or making the observations, you are just putting the data that other people have accumulated into a comprehensible form.
There are, of course, truly difficult forms of technical writing that require a person who has familiarity with the processes, procedures and the language involved in that specific area of research or analysis. This is the stuff best left to those who have both halves of the brain working in perfect synchronicity. A very few writers can handle these assignments and that is why they usually command a higher rate of pay.
Still, by and large, much of what is referred to as “technical writing” is not all that technical. A competent writer who has been provided with adequate time and information can handle the assignment. So, don’t be afraid to at least investigate the opportunity the next time a chance to do some “technical writing” arises. It could be that, instead of a difficult, time-eating writing nightmare, it turns out to be just another genre of work to add to your skill list and bolster your marketability.

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