Is technical writing creative?
Do you find it more difficult to put a document together when you’re not feeling all that motivated? I do. That’s because technical writing is a creative endeavour. You need a bit of flair to write those low-fat, high-fibre, not-entirely-sugar-free documents.
Some people may think technical writing is dry, boring and mundane. I don’t find that. It’s challenging and rewarding, and gets you in the zone as much as any other creative activity.
You need to engage the imaginative side of your brain to find the right words, to cut out the dross, and most importantly to put yourself in the place of your reader. Auto-generated documentation definitely has its place. But the best Javadoc includes some human-spawned words, clarifying the purpose and context of a class, method, etc.
After all, our readers are human, not machine. If machines did everything, there’d be no need for documentation. Or chocolate. Or anything.
Back to the trees
It’s a while since I’ve put a picture of a tree on my blog. What do trees have to do with documentation? Well, stretching for a connection: From time immemorial people have been writing on bark
I was out walking in the Ozzie bush this morning. Here’s an Old Man Banksia, being as picturesque and in-the-moment as they always are:
Here’s a gum tree in flower, with a rainbow lorikeet soaking up the zen:
Here’s the same tree, with Sydney city in the background and the lorikeet leaving: