Writing techniques

How do you get started? Faced with that pristine new document, all that whitespace, what do you generally do to start writing that document? Like most companies, we have a number of people who create content in a number of different styles and formats. The main producers are, of course, the technical writing team, but after that there is still a fair number of documents which fall into the “creative writing” bag including whitepapers, proposals, product sheets and so on. The people involved in writing these documents are, for the most part, promoted internally and have had no formal training in how to write. I was chatting with one of them recently and he said that the biggest issue he …

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Curious Daylight

I’ve spent most of the evening retagging MP3s in my iTunes library in an effort to get them all cleaned up. I tried this with a bit of software before but it did more damage than good so I’m just slowly working my way through by hand and, as it turns out, it’s quite fun for no other reason than it is allowing me to revisit some music I’ve not played for ages. It’s also kicking off a bit of nostalgia at times as well, as I pick over different eras in my music taste, particularly when I stumbled across an old Kevin McDermott Orchestra album which I played so much the CD started to wear through! There was a …

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Why I am a Technical Writer

Having been in a bit of a lull, I recently asked those who follow me on Twitter what I should blog about. This post is in response to a suggestion from Peter Anghelides who replied: “Blog about why you became a technical author?“ Which is a good a topic as any as, like many people in this industry, I certainly didn’t set out to be a Technical Writer, far from it. For me Technical Writing combines two of my early interests, words and technology. Growing up I read a lot, and was lucky enough that my Dad used to bring a computer home at the weekend. BBC (Acorn) Micro, and later the first Mac Plus. I’ll happily admit to crafting …

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Dear Comment Spammer

To the lovely people who have left some comments on my blog recently, and who may be wondering why they haven’t appeared. It’s because you have a URL that takes me to a completely unrelated product website. That and it’s obvious that you’ve not fully read the blog post in question. I realise you are, probably, getting paid for this, and my hope is that having received no referrer links from this website, you’ll realise that there is no point in continuing to leave comments here. Besides, of the 14 people who read this website, few would really want to click through to the weird mix of product websites you purport to represent. Please don’t take any of this personally, …

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Numbers game

Better documentation lowers support calls, is a widely held assumption and one I’m hoping to prove in the coming months. With our new knowledge centre in place, and Google Analytics tracking how many people are visiting it, I’ll soon have stats for my side of the fence. Early numbers (from the past two weeks) show that more people are looking at the Documentation area of our website than are looking at the Support area, but then the knowledge centre (part of the Documentation area) is new so that’s only to be expected and I’m really not expecting to get a true picture of how things are going until late January next year. Fingers crossed. With thanks to Rachel Potts for …

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Stop making excuses

“Sorry I’m late” “With all due respect to…” Sometimes it feels like my life is littered with apologies which, whilst they are nice to hear, aren’t being offered as an apology but as a platitude. Being sorry you are late once or twice is one thing, continually apologising for being late suggests you are both a. insincere and b. lying. I’d much rather you just admit that whilst you may feel some guilt for being late, you aren’t sorry at all. For some reasons these people think that saying you are sorry in some way excuses the fact you can’t organise your time and don’t really care that it impacts on MY time (which admittedly I’m pretty damn anal about …

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December

I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now that it is, without a shadow of doubt, December. If nothing else, the ceaseless adverts for perfume, chocolate and some really REALLY faked Christmases (c’mon, does ANYONE have a Christmas like the ones on the telly?) should have clued you in. There is no denying it. It is most definitely Christmas. Which means two things. 1. The Christmas decorations will go up this weekend, and I’ll spend as much time as I can avoiding doing just that. 2. Blogs all over the land will start their ‘best of’ lists and recaps. Except this one. I thought I’d state it right now just in case any of you are waiting with baited breath, because …

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Being prepared

It is most definitely Monday. Let me rewind the opening part of my morning for you, to offer you proof that it is most definitely Monday. ~ wibblywobbly wibblywobbly wibblywobbly ~ I’m lying in bed and somewhere in the distance, through the murk of a lie-in I hear the radio. Voices, a rabble, some music, and then the pips. I open my eyes to hear the announcement of the time. 9 AM. As my eyes close once more my brain reminds me, in somewhat hurried tones, that I have a meeting in Glasgow at 10.30AM and perhaps, you know, maybe, it might be an idea if I got up. I tell my brain to shut up. It responds by sending …

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THAT time of year

Casting a wary eye over my calendar for the next month or so, given that we are now only a calendar month away from that day which tends to dominate things at this time of year, I realised that, as usual, my weekends are slowly melting into a morass of shopping trips, nights out and other such social occasions. Oddly I’m not attending any gigs at all in December, although that’s largely because I didn’t realise certain gigs were happening until it was too late. It’s always good to go out and have a few drinks, some laughs and general merriment with friends, family and hell even my colleagues aren’t all that bad. But sometimes I’d like nothing better than …

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