How I Accidentally Became a Technical Writer

Photo by Trent Erwin on Unsplash

How I Accidentally Became a Technical Writer

And Love It!


4 min read

The Set-Up

Fired. "Let go". "Promoted to customer" (my personal favorite). This was where I found myself at the end of my last job right before Covid-19 ravaged the planet. I had no degree and no applicable hard skills, but I did have the "gift of gab" and a genuine love for learning.

"This is the last time. I'm not doing this ever again." I said to myself. And I meant it.

Here's what I did:

The next time I leave a job it's going to be on my terms, not theirs.

The Struggle

For 6 months of my life, I went from 8 am - 8 pm absorbing everything I could from that course every single day. I had no life. My friends thought I died, I let my Xbox subscription run out and I subbed to every coding thread and community on Twitter and Discord. I was serious. Plus, there was a pandemic ongoing and I wasn't heading outside anytime soon. Everyone was terrified of breathing the same air as their next-door neighbor.

It wasn't easy. I got distracted every once in a while, but not for long because bills don't give you a break. I was against the clock. I had to make this work.

I read all the time. From documentation to pep talk articles, pushing myself to keep going. I know it's hard. It IS hard. It will test your will. Running on 'E' with that bank account circling the drain will add wrinkles to your forehead guaranteed.

But I finished.

And then...I was still jobless ๐Ÿ˜‚

I had yet to start hacking through the jungle that is job applications and recruiters. Someone should really make a Udemy course on that alone (You're welcome and I want my cut on that).

There's no nice way to put it. It's horrible. Save yourself reading the garbage advice of applying to a million jobs on LinkedIn. You will beat yourself down with rejection emails. Do this instead:

  • Target 3 companies.
  • Write your resume to EXACTLY how the job description describes their "unicorn" candidate.
  • Edit, edit, edit.
  • Send it, then walk to your local job fair and go "Oprah Winfrey" on those booths with your resume.


The Silver Lining

Focusing on a few companies will show you what they are looking for in a candidate. You can use that to have a focal point in your skillset rather than trying to be a true Full-Stack Developer.

If you're on a time crunch, don't be a generalist. Be good at a few tools and techniques in a sub-sector of web development (like front-end animations) and your success rate will be much higher.

Speaking from experience here, most tech companies and start-ups don't want a beginner messing with backend tech that can cost them potentially millions. Most companies however can stomach an uncentered div on a website.

I, however, chose the spirit-crushing path and continued to hack through that jungle for 2 months before I went to a local job fair and they got me my first software developer job in a week. The pay was low, but who cares? You only need the title and you need experience if you want to move further in your career.

The Triumph

I was stoked! I did it! Self-taught developer with no degree on the payroll in just under one year!

I spent about a year and a half at that job and learned an absolute mountain of information and soft skills working with other developers. They are a different breed of humans, no joke. I then decided to start looking for another job to increase my salary.

The Curveball

I interviewed with one company and the project manager mentioned my documentation was great! Not many engineers properly document their projects. She then asked, "Have you ever considered technical writing?"

I was dumbfounded. I had no idea that was even a job.

To be honest, I always loved writing and being creative that way. I started a journal to find a way to express that side of myself. Plus my job wasn't always as appreciative of emojis in the docs as I was.

Software developers make a lot of money and that's cool, but combining writing and software development can bring in some pretty high income. I discovered API documentation was written by these "technical writers" and I was like, "Yup! I'm down to do that!"

The Wrap-Up

I know I'm a weirdo and that's fine because now I get paid to combine everything I've learned in the past three years and write about everything new I learn about. I'll take that trade.

Life is gonna throw you these curve balls from time to time. I challenge you to let one of them hit you square in the face next time. You might find yourself looking at the same path in a whole new light.

Who knows? It might be a fun little detour.