I spent much of the first half of the this month plugging away at what was my first sizeable piece of technical writing, my previous post on using Terraform to set up a new Hugo website on AWS. It took much longer to write than I originally anticipated, and the longer the post remained unfinished, the harder it became to continue working on it.
While a piece of writing taking longer than originally anticipated or intended is not really a problem in and of itself, I found that the unfinished state of the post acted as a blocker preventing me from writing regularly, which in the context of my overall goal to improve my writing skills, is indeed a problem.
As a result of this experience, I have identified that I have a tendency to treat writing in a somewhat monolithic manner without appropriately considering the domain to which the subject matter I’m writing about belongs; writing a technical tutorial requires a different mindset to writing about content consumption workflows, for example.
This links well with another topic that has been on my mind lately: visual communication of technical ideas. I am atrociously underdeveloped in this area as I have recently been discovering, and I think that my approach to improving my technical communication skills could benefit from a more holistic approach which coordinates my efforts in improving my technical writing skills as well as my technical visualisation skills. The exact nature of this approach is still to be determined, but to have identified the need is already a good start.
I find the gaps in my ability communicate technical information frustrating primarily because in my previous career, I was very much at ease communicating domain-specific information and I was largely able to tailor my key messages to a wide range of interlocutors on the fly.
My experience changing careers has been a largely positive one, and I have been served well in the transition by the wealth of transferrable skills I have accumulated over the past decade, but if I am to thrive in this new environment I need to start shifting my attention from the areas where my previous experience has left me in an advantageous position to the areas where I don’t have any relevant previous experience to draw from.