I always thought being a writer meant spending the day working on books and short stories. Maybe editing, occasionally writing blog posts about your upcoming work and of course the usual social media thing.
Well I’m a writer by profession… a Technical Writer. I write those help documents and blog posts you see on websites that help you figure out how a program or system works. Like the support page on Mail chimp or an online FAQ.
This opened up my world; there’s a whole world open to writers.
My Writing Styles
I write for perhaps 12-13 hours a day, 9 of which are at work, the other 3-4 is spent on personal work or writing for Gamecca. While fatigue may seep in I found it doesn’t happen often. The reason is simple; I don’t write in the same style all day.
As you might imagine, Technical writing focuses on a very stringent, grammatically strong, rules based writing. Of using active voice instead of passive. Writing in a professional yet relatable tone. Keeping sentences short and concise. Ensuring vocabulary is not superfluous and confusing. Being consistent in style, tone, and perspective. Writing a logical progression of thought with a intro, body and conclusion format.
Game Journalist Writing:
As enjoyable and illustrious as this may sound, it’s not always fun and games (puns hehe). It’s still a great experience don’t get me wrong. Specifically I write game previews, book reviews, and conduct interviews with independent game developers. It’s a combination of technical writing and my own style and voice.
With previews, I look at upcoming games and write a condensed 250-350 word impression of it. Asking questions like: What is the game about? What view do I have on it? Is there a history to the game or developer? What interesting thing is there to say about the game? Answering these can be easy when the developer has a whole spiel of info. Other times I’m trying to siphon 250 words out of a 25 word brief and that’s never easy.
Interviews are so much easier but longer to compile.
I do book reviews because its fun. The reading itself can be an enjoyable experience but trying to contain those emotions and thoughts into a concise, fair review? It can be quite a challenge. My book reviews tend to be more about my experience of the book. I think less about the structure of writing compared to when I do technical writing.
When I delve into my stories, my mind is so focused on what I’m writing I sometimes neglect that basics of writing. Things like punctuation and structure and superfluous descriptions and grammar and whatever rules I would normally abide to. It’s a freedom of the rules while also using them as guidelines. Its about tone and style and perspective. About characters and story. Not that I neglect all the rules, but I occasionally break them for the sake of story.
Writing in General
Of course there is so much more to say on all these things. Each one I’ve highlighted can be broken down and explored separately to explain the thought processes they need.
There’s also all types of writing out there, subsections in both fiction and non-fiction. We could all be writers and be writing in completely different categories. The journalist vs the fantasy writer. The mystery writer vs narrative nonfiction writer. The self-help book writer vs the Sci-fi writer.
Suffice to say writing is not just a little box. Just because you’re not writing fiction doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. This gives me comfort. Knowing that the 9 hours I spend at work writing technical documents still counts as writing. As improvement that cascades across all other types of writing I do.
I’ve seen improvement in my writing already and that gives me hope.