One of the joys of freelance tech writing is the variation and enjoyment of learning new things. Even within software development there are many options to explore. But what about doing tech writing for non-technical fields? Entirely possible, although sometimes it can be difficult to explain on a resume or in an interview! Let’s look at some of the non-technical technical communication I’ve been a part of.
Writing instructions for hand embroidery patterns has stretched every technical communication skill I have. Instructions for some of the more elaborate embroidery styles involve breaking a design down. Then clearly communicating step-by-step information for every leaf, stem, or dragon scale in the picture. This information includes:
- where to stitch
- what stitch to use
- what color to use
- what kind of thread to use
Usually every element of the design is different. There may also be step by step procedures for how to make each type of stitch.
I was involved in a freelance project my father worked on to write the instructions for a very convoluted strategy board game when I was 12 (I was the instruction-tester). All I really remember was that the game was actually fun and I wished I could keep the prototype. I don’t think the designer ever got it to market, but Dad got paid. This was a tricky project because the rules had to be understandable by a 12 year old. And they had to be organized in a logical manner.
Tabletop Role Playing Systems
I have edited a few role-playing supplements. These little rules books are often overlooked as a type of technical communication. However, they are all procedural, and include use case examples. I sometimes posit that the concept of Information Mapping® was developed after looking at the “boxed text” in the old Dungeons and Dragons® adventure modules.
Anything that has Instructions
From the API that allows the programmer to make her app link to a larger application, to the user instructions for your VCR, technical communication is everywhere. Whether it is good technical writing may be debatable. But someone acting as a technical communicator wrote it. When you are thinking of companies to approach for work, remember this and adjust your expectations and approach accordingly.