Technical communicators face many of the same challenges that confront information professionals when it comes to staying Future Ready in a profession that changes constantly. We reached out to a group of prominent movers and shakers in the profession and asked how they manage their careers, and these are their stories.
by Ben Moore, Senior Technical Writer/Project Lead (and part time comic book writer)
I’m lucky to have a stable job and a stable career. But stability can also equal stagnant.
Usually my eye toward the future is focused on keeping that stability. My life at home is exciting enough with kids activities, neighborhood picnics and the occasional evening out with my wife. But this was the year I needed a shakeup.
Juggling work, dad, husband, volunteer and coaching duties is not a problem. I’ve worked to become better at each of those activities. The problem is, I don’t spend much time stepping out of the box and improving me.
This year I wanted to check off an adventure in my bucket list so I’d at least not regret that I didn’t try – writing and publishing my own comic book.
Writing is what I do for a living, although it usually involves a bunch of 1’s and 0’s or a whole lot of strange phrases like “flip chip ball grid array.” In order to rejuvenate work life and my sense of fulfillment, I needed to write something creative.
They say when you want to lose weight, you should tell a friend because they’ll keep you honest. Without thinking, I casually told a friend that I wanted to write a comic book. He said “Great! Now go write it. You have until the end of the month.” I instantly had a fan and an editor all rolled into one.
Writing my first comic also turned out to be a valuable experience for my day job. All I wanted to do was tell a story, but I ended up making new business contacts, improving my writing ability, and thrilling my boss with some new technical documentation that was more exciting than the usual plain white bread we publish.
Coincidentally, during the time I started writing, my favorite comic book writer was teaching a new class at PSU, AND our division GM said we need to start taking one day a quarter to “follow our passion” to improve creativity in our work. It was an open door to do anything I wanted, and out came a comic strip about how to log in to our project tracking system.
The GM loved it and wanted more. My company paid for me to take the PSU class. I ended up meeting two other aspiring Technical Writers. One of them ended up being a wonderful intern for me. And for the first time in my life, school was fun.
I used my newfound skills (and free time provided by said handy intern) to self-publish three comics within six months. Financially, only one of those comics broke even, but I’m still making adjustments. And I still have three issues to go, so who knows, maybe next year you’ll see my characters showing up on your child’s lunchbox.
Ben Moore has been a Technical Writer and a Technical Communication Project Leader at Intel for the past 8 years. After graduating from Pacific Lutheran University with a degree in Communications, Ben began his career as a sports reporter but later shifted toward careers with normal working hours. Now Ben spends his free time playing with his kids, coaching kids sports, bicycling, and reading comic books.