technical writing

How I Became a Technical Writer

Friends like to ask me how (or why) I became a technical writer. And that's a valid question. When I was in college I remember seeing a technical writing course in the offerings, and wondering who would want to do that. It sounded so boring. As the fates would have it, my first job out of college...Jr. Technical Writer.

I quickly learned that the job was dynamic; it was more like working in a daily newsroom, in fact. Far more exciting than anything I had imagined. I also learned what other technical writers already knew: it was a good way to make a living, especially during the great recession. Where my friends were struggling to find freelance gigs photo assisting, I was working every day. 

So the how. If you've read my bio you know that I went to school for photography and writing. I had written little stories and poems since I was old enough to form words on paper, and part of me always knew that I would be a writer. Yet, in school I felt photography would come first and the writing would support that work. What I hadn't quite appreciated was that I was becoming an expert in a niche technical field that I could also write about. That field was photography. 

I was hired at B&H Photo right after graduation to write for their growing website. It turned out that I had the perfect combination of skills. Over the next eight plus years my knowledge of the photo world grew, as did my writing and editing chops. I moved up in the Web Department and held multiple publishing positions--each was an invaluable learning experience. Every day on the job was training in this thing called technical writing, including all its moving parts: research, contacting the people with the answers to my questions, keeping up on the industry, working with people, and of course, the actual writing and editing. 

Now that I'm on my own I can see the benefits of this "training" even more clearly. I spent nearly a decade becoming the writer and editor I am today. While technical writing wasn't perhaps what I saw myself doing when I was in my early 20s, it turned out to be an awesome career that both kept me in the photo world and opened countless doors.