What Are The Major Downsides Of Technical Writing?

Every career has its downsides, and technical writing is no exception. While the pros vastly outweigh the cons for most individuals employed as full-time or freelance technical writers, there are a few not-so-great things about the job you should be aware of.

  1. It doesn't involve as much creativity as other types of writing: Technical writers, in addition to knowing the rules of capitalization and how to use a semicolon, are also often highly knowledgeable about one or more technical subjects, whether it's mechanical engineering or computer software. It's this combination of skills and knowledge that makes technical writing an obvious career choice. For the individual who's always dreamed of becoming a playwright or poet, however, technical writing can be monotonous and boring. Preparing technical documents requires working within tight constraints, so it's not as creative as many other types of writing.
  2. Tight deadlines are part of the job: Many creative writers like to work when they feel inspired, but technical writing is a career that involves regular and often tight deadlines. An IT company that hires you may give you two weeks to complete dozens of help files. You'll have to spend the time necessary to complete them within the specified time frame. This may mean working when you don't feel like it in order to get the job done.
  3. It's likely you won't ever be famous: Some individuals pursue a writing career in the hopes of becoming famous. While some novelists, bloggers, and journalists are able to achieve this goal, there are very few (if any) technical writers that ever become household names. It's not likely anybody will ever recognize you as the author of that very informative user manual and ask for your autograph. If you're dreaming of fame and fortune, technical writing may not be the best career choice for you.
  4. It can be lonely work: Writing, by its very nature, is solitary work. After you've interviewed the subject matter expert, received the necessary resources, and consulted with the person in charge of the project, the rest is up to you. You'll spend many hours during which your thoughts will be your only company. For social people, the solitary nature of technical writing is a definite downside of the job.

Last Updated: 05/05/2014