What do I want to be when I grow up?

I promise you that, when I was growing up, being a technical communicator was not on my list of things to do. It wasn’t even on the list when I did my first technical writing contract.

A recruiter at Kelly Services needed a technical writer for a Boeing assignment in 1990. She didnʻt have one. She looked at my background, and decided I could do it. “Youʻll be great.” I believed her.

I wish I could thank her today.

How did you become a successful technical communicator?

Somebody asked me how I became a successful technical communicator on LinkedIn. I had never given it much thought; it is something I simply do.

Wanting to be helpful, I thought about it a moment. From my phone, I texted back this answer:

There isn’t one answer that works for all.

I love language and am fascinated with the details. Parallel construction. Active versus passive. Vocabulary.

I have a technical background that works well with computers and software. There are many types of writers requiring different domain knowledge. I can’t work in the medical equipment field as I donʻt have domain knowledge in that area.

I’ve been a high school teacher. That gave me domain knowledge into how people learn. I apply that frequently.

Can you tell a story? Can you think like the person who will want to read your work?

While technical writing is very formulaic, you need to draw upon your love of language to make it interesting enough. No one will read deadly boring content.

Keep reading and learning about the science and art of technical communications, and your domain subject expertise.

That is a quick summary.

This is the unadulterated answer, save for adding a “donʻt” where I missed it in the original. Also being an editor, there are a few things I want to reword. However, I wrote for the reader in a text medium, and she understood. Mission accomplished. My trait to want to be perfect can just be quiet for a moment.

Here is some elaboration on how I became a successful technical communicator.