IMPOSTER NO MORE: How Tech Writers Can Shed Self-Doubt, Embrace Uncertainty, and Surf the Upcoming Swerve in Technical Documentation


Do you feel like a fraud? Do you have that sneaking fear of being “found out” and exposed? Imposter syndrome is corrosive. It holds us back at work - especially in an industry where we can feel constantly under review by talented peers - and erodes our happiness. And the subject always comes up whenever technical writers gather; sometimes it feels like the very definition of a technical writer is “One who experiences imposter syndrome.”

Why is this? The first, shorter part of this talk will cover some research and insights into why we, as documentarians, may be especially susceptible to imposter syndrome.

But the field of tech writing is experiencing a swerve: a tipping point - a sea change in direction. There will always be a demand for ""old"" tech writing, but many of us will have to adapt to this new environment.

In the second, forward-looking part of this talk, I’ll argue that being an “imposter” has its advantages during such a time of change. The very factors that contribute to our self-doubt are actually the qualities that will enable us to thrive as our role inexorably evolves to take on new, unsolved challenges in engineering information. The keys to our success: apophenia (the ability to see connections between seemingly random collections of information), empathy, and adaptability.

Our future is bright if we pay attention to our new opportunities instead of that nagging voice in our heads.

  • Conference: Write the Docs EU
  • Year: 2015

About the speaker

Riona MacNamara