Trying to keep it real here
If you’re a regular reader of this page, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not shy about sharing those moments when I mess up something. There are a few reasons for that.
- I want to be honest with my readers about the good and bad of being a professional technical writer. Call it “keeping it real.”
- I make no claim to being perfect, nor should you expect yourself to be. If nothing else, you can read about my mistakes and give your permission to make errors as well.
- Failures can take a toll on the ego, and sometimes the point of sharing the error is to share what methods or mental tricks I use to bounce back.
- With any luck, you’ll get the opportunity to learn from my mistakes so you don’t make the same ones.
- There are plenty of errors to be had, and so I never lack for material. That is not to say I’m a screwup all the time–I wouldn’t be able to make a living if I was utterly error-prone–but when they come up, I figure I can make something useful out of it, if only to share with you a lesson in “what not to do.”
So it is in that spirit that I now offer up this week’s “whoops” moment.
When doing paperwork, the forms must be obeyed
I think I mentioned somewhere on the blog that I was contemplating going back to school, this time for graduate certificate in Instructional Design. This has turned out to be a comedy of errors, but I’ve taken steps to fix the problems laid out below.
- Once I was accepted into the program, I misplaced the email that told me to go online and accept the acceptance (huh?).
- This past week I was trying to register for classes for the coming semester, but apparently I needed to wait 48 hours after accepting the acceptance before the enrollment function would work on the website.
- So I waited 48 hours and then some, and then tried again. The enrollment function was still not playing nicely with me. Oh, and as I was trying to get all this in line, the introductory class I wanted/needed to take ran out of space. I called up the college again and finally got a person in the correct department. He informed that I had applied for Fall 2017, which starts in September rather than Spring 2017, which started in January.
So what did I learn from all this?
- Read instructions carefully.
- Follow all of the directions on a form.
- And when you’re done, review your answers to make sure that you’re saying what you wanted to say/do in the first place.
Some of these problems were not helped by unclear directions or badly designed forms/interfaces, but ultimately my success or failure with government forms depends on me getting things right. That applies to proposals just as much as state university applications. Little errors like this also serve as a reminder when I am designing forms (and yes, that is very much a tech writing function) to make things as clear and user-friendly for the reader.
Meanwhile, no permanent damage was done. I have a busy January coming up, so I’m fine with delaying my schooling until autumn. And as a result of all this excitement, you got another Object Lesson in Things Not To Do. You’re welcome.
I hope you will accept my acceptance of your apology.