Scope Creep and the Technical Writer

At the suggestion of my friend Susan, today I’ll be taking on the topic of scope creep. Most of the time, this is an engineering issue, such as when a NASA mission or piece of hardware starts out with one simple objective and eventually gets a lot of additional activities added onto it. However, scope creep can also happen to technical writers, whether they’re full-time employees or contractors. I’ll discuss below some of the issues that can arise from this problem. Continue reading

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Insights from “Writing Without Bulls#!+”

I’m recommending a book that could have offended me if I let it. A few weeks ago, I received a tweet from a consultant suggesting that he could help with my recently rejected book proposal. While I appreciated the offer, I was chagrined to learn that the consultant was Josh Bernoff, author of Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean.* Rather than spend all day being offended, I decided to buy his book and learn what I could without him telling me to my face that my writing was…well, that stuff. Full disclosure: I’m about 52% through WWBS. I will finish the book, but I’m far enough along to explain why I think it’s worth reading. Continue reading

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How to Succeed (or Not Succeed) as a Writer

Believe it or not, I didn’t always want to be a technical writer–I wanted to be a science fiction writer. I accidentally picked up the tech writing habit; then learned to love it, and then I did something about it. This will be a meditation on what it takes to succeed.  Continue reading

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Just the Facts: Writing in a Customer Complaint Situation

Whether you have “writer” in your job title or not, writing factually and opinion-free about customers in complaint situations is an important professional skill. My first experience doing business writing for pay was in the hospitality industry, but it could happen anywhere. What you write matters! Continue reading

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Proposal Style Sheets

The more proposals I do, the more I appreciate the need for a style sheet. These templates can do more than establish fonts, headings, spacing, captions, and body text styles. They can provide the proposal team with a list of standard practices for writing. Today I’ll touch on some of those often-unspoken needs. Continue reading

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