I’m a technical writer so that means I write all day, right? Wrong. If I were to estimate the amount of time I spend writing each day, I’d have to think about that and come up with a surprising number that makes people wonder what I do all day then.
So the answer? Maybe an hour or less a day on average. And there are many days I don’t write at all except for a bunch of emails. So what do I do all day then? I wrote about my typical day as a technical writer several months ago describing all the things and tasks I perform in a typical day or week. Writing actually consumes a very minimal amount of my day/week, and I believe that’s also the case for many other technical writers.
Tom Johnson from I’d Rather Be Writing wrote a post titled 14 Widespread Myths about Technical Writing. One of the myths also addressed the question about how much time technical writers spend writing each day.
1. Technical writers spend most of their time writing.
Totally untrue. Most tech writers spend about 10% of their time writing. The rest of their time they spend learning applications, noting bugs, providing usability feedback, structuring their content, setting up styles for their help files, troubleshooting their tools, strategizing help deliverables, training new users, formatting and laying out their content, updating existing content, meeting with project team members, and occasionally playing ping pong.
Perhaps this new insight might make more people interested in the technical writing profession. All the tasks that technical writers perform in a typical day require both the left and the right side of the brain. Technical writing is a little bit of everything—writing, programming, teaching, marketing, analytical, and creativity. There are times I work alone and times I collaborate with other people. Some days I write and other days, I play with tools and software. Technical writing is a great profession for people who want to do a little bit of everything.
And that’s me, Shanghai Tech Writer.