Technical Writing and I

It’s a struggle.

I’ve always loved writing. Ever since I was a kid, I would fill notebooks up with random stories usually centered around my current favourite animal and document my day, journal-style. I was a voracious reader and for a good portion of my childhood, I thought I had it in me that I could one day be a famous author. That or a pet shop store owner, that it.

Fast forward to my first year of university where I get to take a wonderful, joyous and soul sucking class about technical report writing.

It could be the fact that it took place at 5pm on a Friday but it could also be the fact that we relearned basic grammar and got reminded that anything imaginative and unprofessional was not needed.

The one thing that I’m actually thankful that I learned in that class was the proper use of the word “whom” which says a lot about everything else that was taught.

Right now, I’m actually required to do a lot of technical reports and summaries for my coop job which feels a lot different from that writing class in that people are going to actually read them and need them to be at a certain level while in class, the only person I had to impress was the TA and only enough to get a decent grade.

The part that is similar is that it’s still like pulling my own teeth in order to produce something other people would consider a professional technical report. I still do love writing as a way to get my thoughts out on paper (hello! I have a blog!) but I find the methods completely different.

I have to go through an entire process where

  • I first ramble out what I want to say in this sort of format, bolding and italicizing words and sections in the process (bold means “is this really important enough to add” and italics means “I’m too busy to find a good synonym right now but there is no way in heck that this word is going to be in the final draft”)
  • Then I need to go back through it and make better sections and subheadings in order for things to be clearer. My saving grace turns out to be bullet points because everyone loves their easy, informative layout but I also don’t have to put together sentences that actually flow!
  • Finally, I correct everything by reading it out loud to myself under my breath and rearranging everything until it is actually good. And I always have to remind myself to go through the bolded and italicized text to fix what past me left for future me.

I think in my time here I have improved on my writing skills just from sheer volume of writing and that those professional connector words like moreover and consequently are slowing worming their way into my textular vocabulary.

I would love to actually go back and read that report on Composite Parts for Automobiles I handed in for my final grade in that class to see how bad it looks from my newly experienced eyes.

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