After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

Musings On Coming to Work

Posted on April 29, 2016
Filed Under Business, Communication, The Writing Life | Leave a Comment

Who are you? Even though you’re a technical writer, the question matters greatly. Technical writing isn’t supposed to be about psychology. It’s more typically about getting from here to there, providing directions, if you will.

Yet we all function in context and an essential part of that context is ourselves. We bring to work a history and collection of abilities and experiences that enabled, and keep enabling, us to succeed in the first place.

So before numbering steps, editing formulas or getting operational about a piece of equipment, remember that a given process starts with us and where we’ve been until now. What are we bringing to the scene that somebody else saw in us, or at least hoped they did, when they hired or assigned us?

What’s our state of readiness for the next move? We shouldn’t just plunge in, but be aware of alternative moves, some of which might be better, and some worse, but all potentially emanating from us, to an employer’s or client’s advantage.

Obvious thoughts? Probably. But how often do we expressly have them? Wouldn’t they be helpful as recurring prompters? Such meanderings have been stirred by a post on Bart D. Leahy’s blog, “Heroic Technical Writing”.

“My personal marketing advantage, for example,” Bart writes, “is Trust, which includes things like showing up on time, getting good work done on time, and being someone who takes the time to learn his clients’ work and priorities so that I write a better product.” How many of us actually do this last? How much do we actually know about a client’s needs and promptings before start serving them?

Inner precedes outer. Before we put words on a screen or paper, we need to be clear about where they’re coming from. Not just a setting, but the previously arrayed elements of that setting, including those internal to the people who created it.

We could get carried away at this point and start arguing that everything began with Adam and Eve. But no, an assignment begins with what’s gone into a particular setting, the setting in which we’re treading either with aplomb or caution.

Bart Leahy prompts these thoughts with his review of a book, “Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist.” For us as individuals the question becomes, “How do we make ourselves impossible to misunderstand or be misunderstood?” No small promptings, these. We need to be continually mindful of them. We need to be trustworthy.

We’re not just coming to work, but working in a given direction. Ours or our client’s? It needs to be the client’s, of course. – Doug Bedell


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