A good friend asked a good question that I’m going to answer today because I couldn’t think of a short, snappy answer at the time he asked me: “What’s the most important advice in your book?” Thinking it over, this is a good question for anyone writing a book to be able to answer.
Some of the answer, I believe, is in the title: Heroic Technical Writing: Making a Difference in the Workplace and Your Life. How, exactly, does one do that, and what’s so heroic about it?
If you’re making a difference in your workplace, that means you are adding value with your writing and editing and contributing to the organization’s goals. You’re using your work to help your content “win the day.” That’s the what.
How you add value and contribute to organizational goals is by writing clearly and well. Along the way, it helps to have a boy scout (sorry, that’s the best analogy I can think of) like Superman or Captain America. You have to go in with a belief in doing your work honestly, ethically, and good-naturedly. On a purely geeky comic book tangent, if you had to approach someone in the office, would you rather deal with a polite Superman or a grouchy Batman?
Tie all this together in one short answer, and I’d have to say that the main message of my book is to do your job well to achieve success. I know not exactly life-changing, groundbreaking stuff, but I’m a simple guy. Also, given that this book is sort of a collection of the advice I needed when I was in my twenties, it fits. At that age, I was expecting people to just give me a break for being a nice guy or having a degree or whatever. Progress doesn’t happen because of who you are but because of what you do. Therefore, it helps to work like a hero toward your customer or employer’s goals so that you can achieve your own.
One thing Heroic Technical Writing is not about is instant success. If you want instant money, you can always play the lottery; if you want instant fame, you can always do something stupid on YouTube. If you’re looking for a way to build a career and a life, the slower, steadier approach of Heroic Technical Writing just might be for you.