How I Got Into Writing: From NYSC High School Teacher to a Technical Writer.

How I Got Into Writing: From NYSC High School Teacher to a Technical Writer.

Cynthia Peter
·Sep 16, 2021·

5 min read

More often than I can keep count, I am asked about my journey into technical writing. Sometimes it's in an interview, other times it is when I am speaking at an event, and some other times it's my Twitter DM.

Technical writing didn't just start for me. It is not the first thing I tried in tech and my technical writing journey started as a result of urgency. I had no manuals, I didn't even know that there was a title to what I did. All I knew was that I had to get the job done and I was a blogger, so why not?

This is a short history of my journey into tech and technical writing.

A little background

My journey as a technical writer is no different from a host of other technical writers. I started out as a developer. I wrote my first line of code in 2013 and that was in Qbasic.

I was in my first year in college, I was studying Computer science. You know when you are studying computer science and starting out in tech everything that comes up interests you and all? I was that girl that was writing PHP this week and Python the next, and at a point, I stopped writing codes and switched to blogging in 2016. I mean everyone wanted to become the next Linda Ikeji - everybody was me, I was everybody.😂

Learning to blog helped me learn a couple of skills like SEO, SEM, copywriting, and some hacks in writing. My first certification was the google digital skills for Africa certification. That course was an eye-opener and I learned a lot.

Then I got hacked

In 2017, just when I was beginning to feel good about what I was doing on my blog, I got hacked and it hit me so bad.

It was during my final year project, and a few months later I was going to be graduating from school. I couldn't recover the website and I gave up. 😫

For the rest of 2017, I just helped to run the family’s business back home - it is an electrical mart. So, in the Mornings I was a businesswoman and by midday, I was a mandarin student at the Confucius Institute where I was learning Mandarin.

In 2018, I went for National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). For non-Nigerians, NYSC is a one-year para-military service where graduates are posted to different parts of the country to serve in fields that they've studied... or not😎.

I was posted to a very remote school. The kids there were in secondary school/high school and most of them haven’t seen a PC before.

And you are supposed to teach them computer studies?

Yes! On my first day in class, I spent over 40 mins trying to explain what a computer was but all they did was cram the definition of the term, when I asked them what they understood, all I got was stares. After my session, I had to think of a way to make the work easier on myself. I couldn't think of anything and the day passed, school hours were over and it was time to go home.

I was disappointed but I knew there was a way out. There must be something these kids understood. It reminded me of days when my mum as a teacher would carry lots of properties from the house to school just to explain things to her students.

I found a way!

On my way back from work, I passed a cassava processing plant and I recognized my students. I stood to chat with their parents and I observed the process. I saw how these kids confidently managed the process from start to finish and only needed their parents when the task required more strength, like moving the processed batch to the next plant and to the fireside for frying.

That was it! I had to explain this new term to them with things they already knew.

I got home, freshened up, and drafted a different note for my next class.

Did it work?

Yes, it did work. I tried explaining to them how a computer works by using an analogy they could relate to - a cassava processor/mill.

The machine allowed them to put in tubers of cassava as inputs, the machine processes the cassava and return a paste as Output.

It happened like magic and they understood when I showed them my PC and how typing into a word processor was just one way out of many that a computer can be used.

My Job became easier From that day onwards, I dumped all the previous notes and textbooks and just found different ways to explain these technical terms to them.

After my NYSC in October 2019, I started learning to code in Flutter. At the time, there were not a lot of resources that I could follow. But Angela Yu's course on Udemy stood out, so I followed her tutorials and started writing too. I found out that writing helped me to research more and get better at what I was learning, so I couldn't even stop writing.

I haven't written as many articles as I would want but I am happy with my growth as a technical writer. And all thanks to Hashnode, I will be a better and more effective writer by year-end.

My Motivation to keep going? My first article was published on educative.io and few days after it got published, someone reach out from Sri-lanka and said she loved how I explained hot reload and hot restart and it was the most relatable article ever.

That was it! The feedback keeps me going.

The curiousness that grows as a result of my articles. The quantity and quality of things I get to learn daily.

And most importantly, I am a curious cat and I enjoy sharing what I learn with people by writing. The satisfaction I get from learning about new things and comfortably sharing them with people is one super power I can't trade for anything, except a whole lot of money, of course.😂

What are my goals as a writer?

The ultimate goal is to be World-class.

To achieve that, I plan to show up everyday by Reading and writing a lot. Building healthy connections and relationships. Studying and trying out better ways to be productive and world-class.

In all, I want to look back and be proud of this human that I have grown to become. Cheers to more years of staying a writer🥂.

 
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