Working for Free

It starts when you’re young: a friend asks you to look over their resume to see if there are any typos or other errors on it. A family member asks you to edit their small business flyer. Then another friend asks you to write an article for their local magazine. None of them will pay you, of course, but they seem to think that their task will give you “exposure.” If you’ve done this before, STOP. If you’re a freelancer, or even if you have a full-time job and do other writing jobs on the side, you owe it to yourself NOT to work for free most of the time. Continue reading

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For My Younger Readers Who Are Struggling With Career Aspirations

This was originally addressed to a friend of a friend. The recipient is a younger person who is struggling with her ability to do well in the classes she thinks she’ll need to succeed in to become an astronaut. Knowing of my interest in the subject, my friend asked if I had any advice or positive inspiration to share with this young teen. Oddly enough, I did. Obviously this is slanted in a space direction, but it could apply to anyone in that youthful state of doubt. As they say, it does get better, but I’d add that you have to work at it.

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Latest on the Book

Some writers are accused of having “The World’s Greatest Unpublished Novel” lurking in their computer. I’ve got something like “The World’s Most Plausible Unpublished Technical Writing Book” in mine. I’m in the home stretch on the writing portion, so with any luck I’ll get the darn thing into the online publishing world sometime this year. Below is a more detailed update for those of you curious about such things. Continue reading

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Technical Writing Paths to and from NASA

One of the most common questions I get from Heroic Technical Writing readers is: “How do I get a job at NASA?” Mind you, I’ve written a few articles talking about the space writing biz outside of NASA as well, but NASA is still the center of many U.S. space activities. Today I’ll be reviewing some of the paths that my tech writing peers and I took to work on the Ares Projects (2005-2010) and where we ended up after that. While some folks might find it surprising, there is life after NASA as well. (Fair warning: this post is longer than most.) Continue reading

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Read the Frickin’ Manual…Carefully

When a man reaches a certain age, he is encouraged by his doctor to get an exam that requires a camera inserted in his backside to check for prostate cancer, among other things. Alas, I’ve reached that age. There are a lot of preparatory steps involved, up to five days prior to the actual exam. Apologies, this post might be a little on the gross side, so if you’re squeamish, the point up front is that you need to read instructions more than once…the more complex the situation, the more times you’ll need to read them. Sigh. Moving along… Continue reading

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