What Does Professionalism Look Like, Revisited

Last week I took a preliminary look at what “professionalism” looks like. Most of my comments were on the negative side–a list of “Thou shalt nots.” Today I’ll share a few thoughts about the positive aspects of being a professional technical writer–the aspirational or “heroic” ones, if you like. Professionalism isn’t just a matter of what you refrain from doing, after all, but also what positive contributions you can bring to the workplace. Continue reading

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Heroic Restraint in the Presence of Excess Noise

Note: Some minor edits/changes have been made to the original post.

There is a serious misperception among non-writers that the writing process can be turned on and off at a moment’s notice and that it can be interrupted by conversation with zero negative impacts. Occasionally we get a coworker or cubicle neighbor who thinks this way and doesn’t understand the writer’s need for uninterrupted quiet (or music-filled, talk-free) time to stay focused and do the job right. What is the introverted technical writer to do? There are actions you can take to address the situation before you blow your top. Here are a few suggestions. Continue reading

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What Does Professionalism Look Like?

Note: This post has been edited slightly from its original version.

One of the things they don’t teach in university technical writing class (but maybe should) is office etiquette, what I would call professionalism. Schools teach intellectual/technical skills and assume (perhaps wrongly) that  students will figure out behavior on their own because workplace cultures vary so widely. That might be true; HOWEVER, there are some basic behaviors that transfer nicely place to place. I want you to be taken seriously in the workplace. If you’re not taken seriously, you won’t be listened to, and that prevents you from making a positive (dare I say heroic?) impact in the workplace.  Continue reading

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Independence Day

It’s Independence Day in the USA. Because the bulk of my readers are here (and thus probably not reading), I’m taking the day off. I’ll be back next Monday and Thursday with some thoughts on professionalism in the workplace. Have a pleasant weekend, all!

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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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