Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Technical Writing in Corporate America

As I'm approaching the six-month mark of my foray into technical writing, I thought I'd share with you the wisdom I've gathered thus far.  (See image to the left--that might look like a cubicle wall, but it's actually a growing wall of wisdom and all-around smart-ness.)

To be honest, I didn't know quite what to expect when the proverbial "they" offered me the position.  Would I be writing user manuals?  Would I be designing little stickers that said "Press Here"?  I wasn't sure one way or the other, but I did know that I was (a) underemployed at the time, and (b) interested in a position with the word "writer" in it somewhere.  So I packed up my books and my cat and moved 1200 miles to Houston, TX, the center of the American energy industry.

I'm currently working as part of the Project Management group in an IT department, with a focus on introducing my company's employees to web-based tools and applications.  I'm not writing VCR manuals.  In fact, I'm not doing that much writing of "manuals" or "user guides" at all, as, from what I can tell, most of the industry is moving away from binders filled with information that is both important and mind-numbingly boring.  Instead, I've spent most of the last six months designing e-learning courses.

While that probably sounds pretty dry (and can be, depending on the time crunch), some project managers are open to anything and everything and I've been given the opportunity to really experiment with some of the projects I've been working on.  My current assignment can only be described as awesome (a word that should not be thrown around lightly) as I was given completely free rein with the design, and I have since learned how to work PowerPoint like a pro, to the point that I can create animations out of clip art and have made some seriously funny "bits."  I can honestly say that I love my job.

The only down-side is that it has drained me of all creative juices.  All of them.  I don't write (anything) anymore, to the point that if I tried to pick one of unfinished novels up again, I would probably have a hard time even getting one sentence down.  My blog has languished online for months, untouched but for the occasional oops-look-what-I-found link to an article and I most definitely miss my discussions with all of the smart, interesting people I met online through blogging.

Still, I can't regret taking a job that makes me happy for eight hours a day.  If there's anyone out there who has any questions about the field, feel free to hit me up and I'll do my best to answer them.  I might not be able to blog the way I used to, but at least I can pretend to be a smart, interesting (and helpful) person online.  Email me at lifeandlit AT gmail DOT com.

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