A different kind of stress

Writing technical papers is a different kind of stress to others.  Normally, I aim high in the world of my own standards when I write.  I aim to be happy with the resulting work, more than just meeting or exceding the assignment criteria.

However, writing technical papers and the thesis is different.  It is an interactive process.  The landscape changes.  People actively read my drafts.  I receive meaningful feedback.  I help to make sense of the world and also help the world to make sense of me.  What a strange experience!

While the thesis is shaping up, a lot of other written tasks are coming into shape as well.  I am surprised.  I thought everything else would crumble into piles of meaningless syllables.  But no, it is not so bad at all.  In pushing my boundaries, I seem to me to be increasing my ability to understand and be understood by others. 

The scary thing about being understood when one writes for oneself is that there may not be anything beyond the first paragraph.  Nothing is left to discover because the secret to understanding the meaning of the work is revealed to all who can broach the first couple of sentences.

Clearly, this makes no sense for someone who wants to write lots.  Why write in an impenetrable style?  Who wants to read gobbledy gook, anyway? 

So, my big discovery appears to be that plain English is not really boring if it leads to technical English.  Technical writing is more about leaving out the cultural fluff and putting in interesting facts and connections.  Plain English is just about saying nothing for as long as possible until the goal posts move and policies change, so as not to incriminate anyone.

Welcome to a kind of stress that leaves me puzzled enough to need a break every now and then.  This technical writer’s stress is new to me, but not unbearable.  When I do go off on a new project, or take up an old one, things seem to make sense in a different way.  I quite like that.  It makes writing seem to be worthwhile, as it should, in my universe, at least.


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