Technical Writing is not about writing

 Continuation from the last entry. I said I am not sure technical writer is the profession if you want to write. Well, how many people want to read technical or business documents? We all just want to DO it, don’t we? The whole purpose is to convey a message in a simple and clear way. Writing is just one of the useful tools.

I now think it is about trimming. Cut, cut, cut, add, and cut. Can I express what I need to say most, in the fewest characters possible?
So many things call our attention, yet the time is getting shorter. A single day used to have 50 hours. Now it is 24. They say you can do a lot of things within 24 hours. Yes, but.

By the way, I believe Kiefer Sutherland is going to replace John Travolta’s position. They have lots of similarities. They both had their ups when they were young (John in Saterday Night Fever, Kiefer in…well…well he made out with Julia Roberts anyhow) and both had suffered from a long slump. John came back with Pulp Fiction, Kiefer with 24. I thought (actually wished) Kiefer Sutherland would end up as a cheapter version of his dad. They can play both good guys and bad guys. That is already rare enough, but their real talent shines when they play villains; so cool and attractive.

John Travolta is getting old: Kiefer is still in his 30s. Hollywood always needs a charming villain. Let’s see what happens at the 4th franchise of Mission:Impossible or Spider-Man.

Back to writing: When we read something, if we don’t get the idea in 30 seconds we become bored, angry, and miserable. It’s a bit scary to think we have shortened the attention span according to hollywood movies but the fact is fact, and honestly, I am getting addicted to that pace either.

As long as the message is understandable, lean, and entertaining the medium can be anything. And reading is usually the most time and attention consuming method. I think we still rely on writing largely because we are used to. If someone invent a tool that churns out visual messages as we type or speak into it, or even better a tool that is hooked to our brain and takes out the image (with audio) directly, then that’s the beginning of the end of writing era. It is not so far away.

I belong to the old generation so I prefer writing/reading. Here are three books I enjoyed reading and met the mantra: understandable, lean, and entertaining. (By ‘lean’ I mean every word is there for a reason: the books are fairly long)
Po Bronson: What should I do with my life?
Amy Tan: The opposite of fate
Stephen King: On Writing
Thomas L.Friedman: From Beirut to Jerusalem