Why write instructions that no one is going to read?

Ouch. That's a tough one. Is technical writing worth the effort? Hmm...

Ok technical writers, it's time for some motivation. Everyone take a deep breath, grab some comfort food, and follow my lead.

Now repeat after me.

"My work is useful."

Seriously. Technical writing is useful.

Now before you start to doubt, keep in mind that I'm aware of the situation. I know that no one knows how to program their microwave properly, sync their PDA, or use their on-board auto navigation system to its full potential. I'm aware that not a single person on the planet earth knew how to program their VCR from the time betamax was popular to the time digital video made VCRs obsolete.

I know that a lot of people never read instruction manuals or online help.

But you know what? Some people do.

For every mechanic that learns by trial and error, there's one with all of his fingers still attached who read the repair manual. Or one that disconnected the negative battery cable before digging under the hood as your manual advised. He's the one that didn't get burned. He's the one that understands the importance of documentation.

What about the accountant stuck in her office at 7p.m. who figures out why her calculations are off by reading your troubleshooting topics? Do you think she appreciates your work? How about her husband and kids who get to eat dinner with her because she made it home on time? To her technical writing matters.

And how about the kid on the playground who gets an extension on life because his mother read the instructions for using an epinephrine auto-injector? To that kid, technical writing matters.

Do I sound a bit dramatic? Good. Because for every room full of joe-schmoes who don't read the manual, there's one like I describe above.

That one user is the reason we get up each day. Forget everyone else and write for that user.

Do not underestimate the importance of documentation. The world needs you. And it needs technical writing.

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