Tools versus Technology?
Most of the technical writers are from nontechnical background. To become techno-savvy is the primary challenge they confront. Because technology matters in technical writing; it is the wall where you paint your picture. So, what about the tools those give some an edge over poor corner writers? This debate is live, ever.
Is technology, the key?
A technical writer should have a better understanding of the domain he or she deals with. It gives an insight to what you document and how well you can do it. When you understand the concepts and terminologies in different industries, a nerd grows in you!
A grip on technology influences your content development. In line with my experience, I would say you can build precise conceptual information out of it. Procedure steps are easier as you can do an action, obviously a result occurs.
Mastering technology boosts your confidence. In meetings and other discussions with developers, or any ‘form’ of SMEs, you win to convince them and earn goodwill. Your work-life is much easier if you master SMEs too.
A perfect documentation coexists with technology awareness. Your deliverables shine and your organization never wants you to leave. Though, never misunderstand you need to know any technology to the core. You should be able to interpret the technology well to end users. That’s it.
How tools rule
Rather, tool guys outshine others. Tools used to author content is known as authoring tools and tools used to capture, edit, and enhance images are graphic tools. A known tool guy will be a perfect combination of both.
Tools guys don’t talk much; they hardly use keyboard, swiftly finish their job, and rarely share their ‘tool set secrets’. Many occasions, I feel inferior to them as I am not a passionate tool student. I know I can achieve it but never die for it.
You need tools, but that’s not all. Tools can be trained on the job. If you put regular hours to learn tools you can master any tools. You need to develop an interest as it makes you independent at your desk. I would suggest if you are good at writing, get a mastery over some basic tools in technical writing. This can certainly shoot up your credibility at the end of the day.
A reader is least bothered about the tools you used to write a user manual. He or she would be impressed with the clarity of the content and how it is presented, i.e., deliverables.
Limited tool skills create low profile writers?
Desperate writers often complain about their corner positions in IT companies due to medium proficiency in tools and technology. Writing cannot be trained as you think. It is an inborn talent. But you can always improve it with vigorous practice. If you are a skilled writer, you have other options too. But for guys, whose bread and butter is technical writing, tools and technology acumen pay a lot and they try to survive with that.
I believe a good technical writer should possess all three skills: Tools (medium level, minimum) Technology (above average), and good, logical writing skills to translate technologies.