What I’ve Learned From Getting A Degree In Technical Writing

I’ve been a technical writer for almost 10 years now, and I’ve learned a lot of things along the way. For instance, most good writers are actually introverts, not extroverts (just like me!). And even though there are plenty of other ways to make money in today’s market, writing is still one of the best options out there. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:

Why You Should Consider Becoming a Technical Writer in 2022
1. Comprehensive understanding of technical writing concepts.
2. Proficiency in various technical writing tools and techniques.
3. Improved ability to communicate complex information clearly.
4. In-depth knowledge of document structure and organization.
5. Enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
6. Exposure to real-world projects and industry practices.
7. Increased confidence in handling diverse writing tasks.
8. Networking opportunities within the technical writing field.
9. The ability to adapt to evolving technology and trends.
10. Preparation for a successful career as a technical writer.

Every Day Is A Writing Day

I’ve always been drawn to the idea of practicing a skill. I like to feel like there’s a little room for improvement, no matter how small. For example, if you’re playing tennis or piano or learning Spanish, it’s nice to have something concrete to aim for: getting that second serve in during tennis practice; perfecting your scales at the piano; and so on.

I’m not sure if this is simply human nature or if I’m particularly neurotic about it (probably both), but when practicing anything new as an adult whether it’s learning musical instruments or cooking techniques I get frustrated when things go wrong and don’t know why until later. 

This is especially true with writing because every time I write something wrong (and believe me, there are plenty of times), I get stuck wondering why my sentence looks weird until someone explains what went wrong and how they would fix it differently than me.

The thing is: writers aren’t born writers they become writers by practicing their craft regularly over long periods of time until their writing becomes more polished and refined through constant repetition.*

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Write Short Sentences

Simple sentences are powerful. If you can’t convey your thoughts in a single sentence, then your ideas are too complex or the sentence is too long. It’s a good idea to keep this rule in mind when writing technical documents: keep it simple!

One way to write simpler sentences is by using shorter words and avoiding unnecessary ones. You don’t need three-syllable words when one-syllable words will do just fine. 

For example, “create” is better than “generate” or “constitute,” which both mean essentially the same thing as create (that is, make something). Similarly, “publication” sounds like an official word for magazine articles but means the same thing as an article or book and doesn’t sound as formal or pretentious either!

Always Try To Write Something New Everyday

If you’re like me, you might find yourself stuck in a rut from time to time. That’s not exactly the most encouraging thing to hear, but it’s true and it’s something we can all get better at avoiding. 

One of the first things I learned in technical writing was that if your writing is getting stale or repetitive, try switching up your routine and challenging yourself by writing about something new.

For example, let’s say that every Monday morning for two years straight (this is an exaggeration), you’ve been writing about how to program computers using C++ and Visual Studio Code as part of your work duties at Company X. 

It could be easy for someone else reading through these articles over time to see patterns emerging in the way they’re written; maybe they start noticing certain words or phrases that make their way into each article several times per month without fail (e.g., “programming,” “code,” etc.). 

This can lead them down a path where they feel like they know exactly what kind of content is going on behind all these pieces because they’ve seen enough examples of them!

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Most Writers Are Introverts

Let’s talk about the fact that most writers are introverts. No, not everyone is an extrovert, and yes, even shy people can be great journalists or novelists or columnists (or whatever!). But there are aspects of writing that are distinctly introverted. 

Writing is a thinking activity; it’s a creative activity; it’s a solitary activity all things that require time spent alone. As an engineer by training, I’ve found myself to be at my most productive when I’m working quietly by myself with no interruptions from my colleagues because they’re all out in the field doing their jobs.

Yes but Elon Musk! You don’t have to agree with me that this is true: many people do disagree with me on this point and they’re not wrong! 

However, just because one person can succeed as an extrovert doesn’t mean all future entrepreneurs should follow in his footsteps. Instead of thinking about what Elon Musk did right in college and then trying to emulate him exactly (as his many followers do), maybe we should focus more on learning how he thinks and then apply those principles ourselves!

Good Writers Are Always Reading

The best way to learn anything is to read. Reading helps you develop your writing style, and it’s also a great way to pick up new vocabulary and get inspiration for writing techniques.

Reading is an essential part of being a good writer and editor, but it can be difficult to find time for it when you’re already busy with schoolwork or work. I’ve found that the easiest way to make sure I’m reading enough is to just set aside 20 minutes at the end of each day for reading on my tablet or phone (I like using Goodreads).

As a technical writer, having access to the right resources can significantly impact your success. Explore our list of 16 Resources for Technical Writers: Agents, Publications, and More to find valuable tools and contacts in the technical writing field.

Never Stop Learning

No matter how much you think you know, there’s always something to learn. When I began my program, I thought I knew all about writing technical documents. After all, wasn’t that what I’d been doing every day at work? How hard could it be? 

But even though I had been writing technical documents for years and was highly regarded by my peers for my ability to do so (or so they told me), when presented with an assignment that forced me out of my comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory (and also required me to write a paper on Dr. Seuss).

I quickly realized just how little actual knowledge was being applied in those documents and how woefully unprepared I was for the real world of documentation!

Most Technical Writers Start As Technicians In The Field They’re Writing About

So why should you consider getting a degree?

First, it’s important to understand that most technical writers start as technicians in the field they’re writing about. They have more than likely been working in their particular industry for some time, and, likely, they have even been responsible for creating documentation in the past. 

It can be helpful when starting as a technical writer to know what hurdles are faced by your audience because of their job or field; this experience gives you an understanding of their problems and challenges that may not be obvious otherwise. 

In addition, having firsthand knowledge of how information is presented will help you create better documentation because you’ll be able to tell what works well and what doesn’t.

Second, getting a degree can help improve your skillset overall even if you don’t wind up becoming a full-time technical writer! 

Courses like English 101 or Writing for Business will teach you things like grammar rules (which vary depending on who writes them) along with persuasive techniques such as persuasive writing styles such as argumentative essays or informative texts; these skills aren’t necessarily specific enough yet aren’t too broad either–they’re just right where we need them!

Don’t Let Writer’s Block Paralyze You, Just Write Something And Move Forward!

The best way to get past writer’s block is to write something down, no matter how bad it is.

Learn how to avoid writer’s block by working on a project that has a deadline and will make you nervous. This will motivate you out of your funk and allow you to finish something new in time for the deadline.

Overcome writer’s block by having some kind of accountability partner or buddy system so that they will help keep you accountable for finishing what needs to be done when they need it done.

Get over writer’s block by writing something even if it isn’t great – just do it! Do anything!

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Find Your Style By Reading Widely

Read widely. One of the best ways to learn how to write is to read widely, both for pleasure and for educational purposes. Reading good writing can help you develop your style by showing you what works and what doesn’t work. 

If you don’t already have a favorite author or genre, start exploring! You might be surprised at how much writing can inform your own; I was when I discovered that some of my favorite writers were also technical writers!

Seek feedback from others. Once you’ve been writing for a while and feel like your style has developed, get feedback from people whose opinions matter to you. 

Not only will this help improve your writing skills as a whole; but it will also make it easier for others and eventually yourself to understand what makes up “good” technical content (which is different from “good” creative fiction or nonfiction).

Don’t Rely On Spell-Checkers, Proofread Your Work

Spell-checkers aren’t perfect. They can’t catch every grammar error, punctuation mistake, word choice error, or sentence structure error. 

Spell-checkers are built to check words against a dictionary (or database) and flag the ones that might be used incorrectly based on their definition. Spell-checkers don’t know what is right or wrong in your writing until you tell them what to look for!

Embrace Change And Never Stop Asking Questions

To me, this best encapsulates the spirit of learning and growth. I’ve been surprised by how much I have learned in my master’s program, but it’s not because I went in with a set of expectations or assumptions about what I would learn. Instead, it was because I embraced change and never stopped asking questions.

I asked questions to my professors as well as my classmates. I asked for help from my classmates and mentors when they offered it-sometimes even before they offered it! And I always got an answer back within 24 hours. 

What could have been intimidating at first became an exciting part of my week: checking with peers on how they approached technical writing tasks like creating a table of contents or diagramming an article structure was not only helpful.

But also fun because we shared stories about past classes and projects that made us laugh together even though we were thousands of miles apart in different countries!

Asking questions led me down unexpected paths like learning more about programming languages such as HTML5 which can be used for interactive storytelling (like games). 

It also led me into new areas where writing is used less frequently but still has merit such as analyzing data sets using Python scripts instead of just using spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel does automatically without any human intervention needed (which isn’t ideal because people aren’t perfect machines who don’t make mistakes).

Never Assume Anything About Your Audience

Never assume anything about your audience.

You may be familiar with a topic and think it’s obvious, but your reader might not be. For example, when I was writing my thesis on optometry, much of my audience would have been new to the subject matter. 

They had never learned about optics before so everything I wrote would need extra explanation or examples for them to understand it well enough to pass their final exam.

Don’t assume that if you know what you’re talking about then everyone else does too.

Just because you’ve been studying something for years doesn’t mean that everyone else knows as much as you do! 

For example, when I became interested in technical writing online courses at the age of 16 (yes…I started college early), there were days when I would feel completely lost because all of the terms used were completely foreign to me or used different meanings than how they were used at my local high school (like “formatting” vs “layout”). 

It took me a while to get comfortable with all these new words and how they fit together into sentences like molecules form atoms which form chemical reactions which create life-sustaining ecosystems on Earth etcetera ad infinitum.

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Always Be Curious And Inquisitive In Your Writing

To be a good writer, you need to be curious. You must be willing to ask questions, and then follow up on them.

There are so many different ways that you can go about doing this. You can use Google or another search engine to find answers, or simply look up the answer in an encyclopedia or dictionary if it’s something simple like how many legs does an octopus have?

You might also try asking friends or family members for answers too; they may know something you don’t know! And if nothing else works for you, just ask your audience directly they’ll likely have some ideas (and maybe even some answers) of their own!

In addition to asking other people directly about the topic at hand, there are several other sources available for finding information as well: 

Your boss might know a few things about what goes on behind closed doors about company policy on certain topics; colleagues may also share some insight into certain processes as well.

Teammates can help provide insight into things such as workflow efficiency within departments; professors will often have inside knowledge relating to their professions as educators while also being able to share other bits of wisdom gained over time through experience.

Students might have relevant insights relating specifically to coursework requirements outside of class time frames which could prove useful when preparing assignments such as term papers due dates coming up soon–so remember those deadlines 😉

Let Others Read Your Work To Get Feedback From Them

When you’re a writer, no one but your readers can tell you what’s wrong with your work. The only way to find out is to get feedback from others and make adjustments accordingly. Here are several ways to do this:

Ask friends or family members for their honest opinion of your writing but be prepared for what they say! They may not always agree with your point of view, especially if it’s something very personal that you’ve written about yourself. 

But they may also offer valuable insight into how other people will read and interpret the piece. Listen carefully to what they have to say and consider how their advice might apply in other cases as well.

Ask professional writers if they will take a look at some examples of your technical writing pieces in exchange for their honest opinions on them (or whatever else). If so, send them links or attachments when possible! 

Most writers love reading new content so give them something fresh each time so they don’t get bored by seeing too much repetition over time (unless there isn’t much variety available). 

This method is best if done via email rather than phone calls; emails tend not only require less time commitment upfront from both parties involved but also allow more flexibility around scheduling times when both people are available without disrupting any plans made beforehand.”

Keep Up With Technology

As a technical writer, you’ll be constantly bombarded with new technology. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the new tools that are out there and feel like you don’t know where to start. But it’s important to keep up with new technology because it can make your work easier, faster, and more efficient.

If you want to do good work as a technical writer, then you need to learn how these tools work so that you can use them effectively in your projects. If there is an old tool that has been working for years but now has a better replacement available (like Google Docs vs Microsoft Word), then it might be time for a change!


Now that you have a sense of what technical writing is all about, let’s put this knowledge into action! There are many ways to do so: by joining an organization like the Society for Technical Communication or a local chapter of a professional society; by volunteering with your local library; or even by taking part in online groups. 

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can make connections with others who can teach and inspire you.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to expand your knowledge on technical writing and related topics:

Insights from a Year of Technical Writing: Gain valuable insights and lessons from a writer’s one-year journey in the field of technical writing.

6 Reasons to Consider Becoming a Technical Writer: Discover compelling reasons why you should explore a career in technical writing and the benefits it offers.

Reflecting on What I Have Learned in Technical Writing: Delve into a reflective essay about the writer’s learning journey in the realm of technical writing.


What are the key takeaways from a year of technical writing?

The article discusses valuable insights and lessons gained from a writer’s experience in technical writing over a year.

What are some reasons to consider a career in technical writing?

The article outlines six compelling reasons why individuals should contemplate pursuing a career as a technical writer.

How does the reflective essay on technical writing contribute to learning?

The essay reflects on the writer’s experiences and learning throughout their journey in technical writing, offering insights into the learning process.

What insights can be found in the article about becoming a technical writer?

The article provides readers with insights into the benefits and reasons behind considering a career as a technical writer.

How does the article on reflecting on learning in technical writing add value?

The essay adds value by sharing personal experiences and reflections that shed light on the learning process and growth in technical writing.