Finding an early love for computers
When I was a kid in the mid-‘90s, I saw a computer for the first time in my life. At that point, I had heard incredible stories about these magical devices. These machines somehow knew all sorts of facts, they were shiny, and you could use them to play games too! At age 13, I finally had the chance to use one and was immediately hooked.
Despite not pursuing a career in computer science, the love for understanding computer systems stayed with me throughout the years. When I was 18, a friend of mine lent me 5 Linux installation disks. I went home early that day and managed to partition my hard drive to install SUSE 9.2. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but on that day, I began my journey towards becoming a technical writer.
I became an active participant on Spanish Linux forums. I was soon helping others configure their computer, figure out how to fix a problem, or learn how to install a program. I wrote guides and answered questions. After a few years of being a part of the community, I decided it was time to create my own blog.
One of my proudest moments was when Nvidia released their drivers supporting Optimus technology on Linux. Nvidia just said it worked, but they didn’t provide any documentation. I spent more than 8 hours reading technical documents and MAN files, testing and breaking my graphics system and fixing it again until I finally figured out how to configure it. I immediately wrote a detailed tutorial and posted it online. It became the de-facto guide for everyone for a few months until Linux developers caught up and automated the whole thing.
Documentation as a means of giving back
Writing technical documentation became a way of giving back to society, of doing something for the sake of helping others.
Learning something new and then being able to communicate that knowledge to your readers, regardless of their background or previous knowledge of the subject, is a very rewarding task. Unlike other types of writing, technical writing is a live process that requires keeping up with an environment that evolves every day.
Technical writing provides the opportunity to learn all the time. To transmit a meaningful message to a wide potential audience, one has to understand the subject. Constant learning is a big part of writing.
Communicating precise information that many people can easily and unequivocally understand is a huge challenge. It demands continuously improving your communication skills in the chosen language, learning new tools, and overall growing as a person.
Technical Writing has a bright future
Nowadays, technical documentation is an indispensable part of every software product. The demand for good technical writers is increasing steadily around the world, especially in Latin America. Permanent positions are offered at almost every tech-related company, as well as freelance roles for some projects. The job market for tech writing looks very promising. A direct result of such high demand is the fact that employers are willing to pay good salaries, making it a great career choice.
There are many reasons for choosing technical writing as a professional career. For me, seeing other people learn from my material and appreciate it, has been the driving force.