15 Tips to Learn a New Technology

The common mistake most technical writers make is that they learn all possible authoring tools, brush up their writing skills and get started. The prevalent misconception is that anyone with good writing skills and knowledge of a few tools can become a technical writer. I am afraid; this is not at all true.

No matter how fine your language is and how well you format it, ultimately what matters is the essence of the content you present. The success of your content lies in giving the audience what they want. Unless and until you understand the technology very well you will never be able to cater to the needs of the audiences. If you have to write a user manual for a software product, you need to know:

  • The product and its features
  • Its role in solving business problems ( a brief idea should do)
  • To use the product thoroughly

Then you need to get into the shoes of the audience and be able to sense what they would look for while using the product. So the key to good technical writing is thorough knowledge of the subject you are writing on. Some months back, I had this big task of understanding the what, why and how of a BRMS. This was my first learning goal among many others. Let me put down my learning lessons as tips:

While learning a new Technology

  1. Boost up your level of enthusiasm and level.
  2. Be determined to learn the technology at any cost.
  3. Hunt for information.
  4. Do not expect others to teach you. Even if they do they will not be able to do justice.
  5. Keep reading. ( Use search engines like Google)
  6. Do not post questions in any Writers Community. Do that only if Google fails you.
  7. Initially you might feel lost. Do not give up.
  8. Read the same stuff again and again everyday. Even if you do not really understand, you will definitely get a hint.
  9. If it is a product or application explore it on your own.
  10. Dig up all product documentation.
  11. Check if there are any help manuals, videos or tutorials.
  12. Watch the video or read the help manual and try out the tasks on the product.
  13. Every product has samples. Pick up the samples and recreate them on the product.
  14. Make a list of questions/doubts. Even if they are silly, never mind.
  15. Never hesitate to clarify your doubts.

Believe me all my efforts have paid off. I finished the entire user manual for a BRMS in less than three months just because I paid attention to the product first.

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2 Responses

  1. Even for a layman, I can see that you are very analytical, criptic and lucid. The way you go about is bound to get the attention of anyone and particularly relevant to people of your profession. I am not a good judge but I can feel it that you are on your way to strike an analytical way of thinking and you will be a torchbearer for other Technical Writers in general. I also feel that soon you will outgrow your skin of a Tech. Writer and go up with your sheer power of analysis and synthesis. You will remember these words at every stage on your way up. Go ahead. Achieve.

  2. Hi Roopa,

    We have mailed earlier too. As I read your articles , I wonder that how do you get so much time to give thought and write it down in such a refined manner. I have become your fan, truly. You have to tell me when do you write these stuff . I am sure , its not that this is the part of your job.
    Every artricle is so meticulately written. nice.
    Can you help me by giving any website references for the correct grammer. I have studied in English medium , but still, being RSS school, English was our second language. Though English is my strngth, Now, I often get confused when as ID I have to go for the minute grammatical details like when to use which/that . Even The article or prepositions are ever confusing for me. Many wesites are either giving very basic about grammer that wew know very well. But, do you know some guide that can help TWs to get sharpen in American English?

    And , what all should I learn and where from to switch to TW from ID, if at all required in life? I hope TW is not as boaring as people say. You have really made it interesting.
    I hope my queries does not bother you.
    But, you are truly my inspiration. I hope , we do keep in touch.
    Wish you a great happiness and success inlife.
    Regards,
    Shweta

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