RE: Where did you get your feet wet?
Several of these threads have gotten me wondering how most of us got
involved in tech writing to begin with. How many of you have your
bachelors or masters in the field? How many of you grew into it from
previous jobs? How many of you just thought it sounded interesting and
jumped on in?
In 1986, I was working for a federal government agency as an "assistant secretary." We had a new-fangled IBM word processor that was being used as a "smart typewriter." I attacked the manual with a vengence, and learned to do lots of little things -- changing fonts, creating macros, and other swift tricks. I even created a template -- incredible, when I think about it, since our work processor was not much different than a series of DOS prompts.
I was also doing the data entry for a time-tracking database. When I graduated from college, I needed to leave behind "instructions" for the next student intern. I wrote my first manual as a result. (I still have it in my portfolio.)
Later, while I was teaching mathematics in college, HP came out with an incredible calculator that had a terrible manual. I rewrote the manual, and tried to sell it to HP. They weren't interested, so I just sold it on my own.
Eventually, I was doing more writing than teaching, so I quit the one that paid less. I didn't remember taking a vow of poverty when I graduated from college...
Technical Writer/Requirements Analyst and recovering educator.
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Where did you get your feet wet?: From: Lori Olcott
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