What It’s like to be a Technical Writer in the Technology Industry

Name: Cate Bredenkamp

Job title: Technical Writer

What does a day in your Derivco work life look like?

Something like a bag of Licorice allsorts. I work on a range of projects with people from all over the world, so I’m usually jumping between completely different tasks.  My day is packed with video conferences, coffee chats, brainstorming sessions, product reviews, defect resolution, writing crunch time, content editing and reviews. That’s my eight-to-five.

What makes this industry unique?

I think how just fast the software industry moves and progresses. As fast as you release something, it’s out of date. There’s never really any time to sit back and enjoy your product; if you stop moving, you’ll get swept away by the current.

How did you know writing was going to be part of your career journey?

Professional writing was always part of the plan, it’s everything else that has surprised me. Tech writing has pushed me into so many new areas, and I’m now involved in software design, technical training and online communications.

What is the most exciting part about your job?

Starting a new project. I love the research; sourcing and connecting strings of information, building a network of new people to collaborate with. A myriad of sticky notes and pages of hastily scribbled information, that’s my favourite way to work.

How do you stay inspired inside and outside the office?

I’ve learnt to give myself a break and take time to re-energise. This a busy industry, and it’s so easy to get caught up in “just doing”. You can’t put energy into new ideas if you don’t have any energy left. When you’re properly refreshed, creativity and inspiration will bloom.

What advice would you give to aspiring professional writers?

Don’t be scared of having your work criticized. In a professional industry, you’ll see your work reviewed and changed a million times, and it’s that editing process that leads to the best product overall. It’s a strange balance; you need to put heart and soul into your writing, but be okay to let it go.

What was the last book you read and did you enjoy it?

I’m working my way through classic fantasy epics at the moment. My last read was Exile by RA Salvatore. It’s brilliantly written.