It’s that time again: the last post of the year, where I take stock of what’s been happening on this blog and in my peculiar technical communication career. If you don’t have time for the long version, the short version is that I’m still employed; still dispensing advice on tech writing in the current challenging work environment; and finally managed to get my book–Heroic Technical Writing: Making a Difference in the Workplace and Your Life–published. The rest is just commentary. I hope you’ve done well this year, all things considered, or are looking forward to a better 2021.
I started the year determined to keep things real. I wrote about things like letting go of clients; giving recognition to tech writers; “cleaning house” after failing with a client; and dealing with jerks in the workplace.
Then March came, and “keeping things real” got a lot more challenging. Like all of you, I’ve had my life upended in multiple ways by the COVID-19 pandemic, though fortunately I’ve managed to stay employed. If you’re still struggling, you might want to go back and review some of my posts reacting specifically to the changed work and economic situation:
- Expediting work tasks in times of crisis
- Reducing stress
- Doing things to make your work life better
- Making a new normal for yourself in changed economic circumstances (also here)
- Managing your time
- Identifying reliable sources of medical information
- Employing Zoom as a workplace communication tool
- Mourning your pre-pandemic life
- Understanding how scientific information is being communicated during the COVID crisis
- Maintaining a “heroic” mindset in the midst of the ongoing crisis
Somehow, in the midst of all this excitement, I finally managed to get the Heroic Technical Writing book published. If you’d like an affordable, concise handbook about the details of the technical writing trade, this is a good professional’s-eye view of the business. I regret that I lack the time and patience to instruct or mentor all 34,000+ of you in person, but the book is always available in Kindle or paperback format. : )
Using content developed from 2011 through 2019, some of the book has become–temporarily–dated due to COVID. It’ll be a while before a lot of businesses get back to full-time, in-person working and travel for trade conventions or classroom learning experiences. That said, those activities will come back in some form eventually. I might need to write a sequel to address more of the realities of technical writing at a distance. How will networking, performance reviews, and job hunting look in a primarily “remote” or health-challenged customer environment? Even if I don’t get a book out of it, I will continue to share insights going into 2021.
All this said, I wish all of you a safe, healthy, and productive new year. My inner realist thinks that the peculiar current state might become “the new normal.” However, we and our employers have had ten months to adapt, and we all must continue to learn. “Heroic” technical writers are those who use their brains to adapt not just to new content but to new challenges surrounding the delivery of that content. May each of you tap into your own internal “super powers” to win the day.