I recognize that there are a lot of blogs out there dealing with writing, and I hope this one will not just add to the clutter. There seem to be two kinds of writing blogs:
1. How to write “literature,” as in novels, poetry, plays, and films.
2. How to become a professional technical writer.
What I plan to do here is to focus on a different audience: people who are not professional writers but whose jobs require them to produce good-quality technical or business writing. Most professional jobs require some writing, whether it’s a report to your supervisor, a letter to a colleague or customer, or documentation when the company needs it but is too cheap to hire a writer. My blog will not be about how to become a professional writer or editor but instead will give helpful instructions and tips for those who have been forced against their will into becoming at least part-time writers.
So, who am I to give advice or instruction about writing? Here are some of my qualifications:
I have a master’s degree in English, with an emphasis in rhetoric, from Brigham Young University. During my undergraduate studies, I worked as an instructor and tutor in BYU’s reading/writing center. My supervisor recommended me as a tutor for graduate students in the Communications Department, which I did through my senior year. (Needless to say, the Communications grad students weren’t happy to be taking advice from an undergrad English major.)
During graduate school, I taught composition and technical writing to undergraduate students, I took a course in software documentation for which I produced a manual for a university-authored networked-computer application.
After my first year, when I received an award as the outstanding first-year student in our department, I did a paid internship as an editor at the largest corporation in the state of Utah. After a year managing a team of technical writers at a software company, I was hired by the corporation where I had done my internship as a full-time editor. Since that time, I have spent more than twenty years as a technical writer and editor in industries ranging from computer software, academic publishing, and the oil and gas industry. I have been asked by my employers on many occasions to present seminars, lectures, and formal course on effective writing. I am also a member of the Society for Technical Communication, and I have given lectures and seminars for the society and served as a judge for technical writing competitions.
In my spare time, I’ve written peer-reviewed articles for scholarly and technical journals and have published an award-winning memoir, Heaven Up Here. I do freelance technical writing and editing on request, but my intent here is to help people learn to communicate more effectively through writing. If you have any requests for topics, please leave a comment, and I’ll try to put together something useful.