Discipline of Writing

Photo Sources: NASA
"I have learned to use the word impossible with the greatest caution." Wernher Von Braun

Like walking on the moon, good writing requires discipline. Here are a few places to go to learn that discipline.

Society for Technical Communication (STC)
STC Washington, DC Chapter 2 Example
One way to learn the skills necessary to communicate effectively is through constant reading and study. A disciplined approach includes joining a professional society. I recommend the Society for Technical Communication.

Why? It is the only way to stay disciplined and current in the field. For example, my local STC chapter, Chapter 2 for the Washington, D.C. area, has seminars, newsletters, meetings, communications tools, jobs, Web resources, search tools, competitions, and special interest groups (SIGs), and other ways and means to make you and keep you an first-rate technical communicator.

50 Writing Tools
For a quick primer on How To Write, see Poynteronline.

Try Mike Markel's Technical Communication manual...it lists for above $80 but you can get one on e-bay used for $20. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312403380/104-6699886-0596706?v=gla...

He also has a website that is useful: http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/techcomm/default.asp

Your Local Community College Example
Austin Community College Example
Your nearby community college has first-rate, inexpensive courses on technical writing. It is a good place to get started with the nuts and bolts of how good technical writing is accomplished.

A Certificate from a Graduate School
University of Alabama Huntsville
Huntsville, AL has one of the highest concentrations of high-tech manufacturing in the nation. Redstone is there. So is Space Camp, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, where I took my college student in mechanical engineering when he was six-years old (hmmm...maybe he got the idea to be an ME from the Wernher Von Braun exhibit there) and Redstone. There may be many places to get a graduate school technical writing certificate, but few would seem to be in the shadow of Wernher Von Braun.

A College or University ExampleUniversity of Toronto
If you have the money and the years, there are numerous college and university technical writing programs where you can get an undergraduate or graduate degree.

A Local Writer's CenterThe Writer's Center Example
Many areas have writer's centers where you can go to hone your craft. Although they do not have the rigor or depth of a college or university writing program, they are excellent places to meet other writers, take courses around your work schedule, and where you can choose from a variety of writing disciplines, from scriptwriting to corporate writing to one-on-one manuscript mentoring. Most of the classes are taught in a workshop format and are a good way to begin to learn the discipline and skills required for good writing.

The Writer's Center in the Washington, D.C. area is one such center. I have taken workshops at The Writer's Center (e.g. HTML and the Web in 200) and can vouch for their quality. As they say on their homepage: Whether you are a seasoned author or are just beginning to write seriously, the workshop experience can nurture your artistic life as few other activities can.

Technical Writing Bookstore's
Reiter's Technical Bookstore Example
Like becoming an astronaut, technical writing is a discipline that requires much self-learning to be able to master the body of knowledge required to be a first-rate technical communcator. It also requires the kind of devotion to the mission astronaut Neil A Armstrong showed when he was so busy carrying out his tasks when he landed on the moon that he did not get around to taking photos of himself there.

But to keep current with the current and past technical communication body of knowlege, I recommend Reiter's bookstore. Both on-line and at the location on K and 17h in Washington, D.C., it is one of the best places to find all the guides, manuals, and career infomation you need to make it as a technical writer. They have been around for decades and I have been using them as a self-learning technical communication resources for many years to help master the field of technical writing.

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