It is that time of year again when you scramble to come up with ideas for meaningful and useful Christmas gifts for the Technical Writer in your life. Here are a few light-hearted suggestions to reinvigorate all those technical writers out there.
- Coffee: No other beverage fuels the writing process quite the way quality freshly-brewed ground coffee does. Honore de Balzac said, ‘As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered…Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle’.
- White noise CD: For those days when you are facing an impossible deadline, you work in a noisy open-plan environment, and the office decorators have just arrived. Invaluable!
- Hard copy of a thesaurus/dictionary: Nowadays most writers use online versions, but there is nothing to beat the tactile pleasure of leafing through pages of etymological definitions. Dictionaries, thesauri, and even style manuals – guaranteed to make the heart of even the most cynical technical writer beat faster.
- Henry the desktop hoover: Meet Henry the miniature vacuum gadget. He fits in the palm of your hand and will, in a matter of seconds, have your keyboard looking as pristine as the day it came out of the box. There is also a ‘Hetty’ version available, but I quite like the idea of a man doing the hoovering for a change!
- Instruction manual: Remember, as a child when you received Christmas gifts but ended up spending more time playing with the packaging than the actual gift? The grown-up equivalent for a technical writer is the gift that arrives with a complex set of instructions. Hours of fun guaranteed!
- The perfect pen: Even though laptops are the primary writing tool, many writers have a fascination with the humble pen. They have a particular idea of what constitutes the perfect pen – it has to be the correct weight, grip and tip size. There are a number of manufacturers that will design a bespoke pen which should satisfy even the most demanding of scribes.
- Bozo the Clown punch bag: When the tools fail, the deadlines are getting on top of you, and you just can’t seem to find the right way to phrase those tricky configuration instructions.
- Heated socks: All writers have cold feet (and I’m not talking about a fear of writing, but come to think of it, there may be a gadget to solve that too!). Heated socks can make the days when you just can’t leave the desk a lot more tolerable.
- Poster of the SME of the year: The engineer who reviewed the documentation on time, gave insightful feedback, and inserted a smiley face at the end of their emails. We thank you!
- DVD of Enigma or The Da Vinci Code: After a day of deciphering code, it’s good to sit back, put the feet up, and watch someone else trying to crack a WWII cypher or a Fibonacci sequence.