Interview: 563 Media’s Tech Writer, Keisuke Hoashi

Note: This post was originally featured on 563media.com in 2012.

We have a new feature here on our website–we’ll be running interviews with creative professionals and colleagues, starting with our own staff. This is the first in a series.

Five Questions with Our Technical Writer, Keisuke Hoashi

Keisuke Hoashi

1. What exactly is technical writing? 

Tech writing is translating highly technical jargon into words a “normal” person can understand. The most common examples are user manuals, such as those you get with software or a kitchen appliance. Ideally, tech writers also have graphic design skills, since a well-designed diagram is often the most effective way to explain a complex device.

2. What are the three most common communications mistakes you’ve seen companies make? 

1 – Too many words.

Most users will only look at a manual to find the answer to one specific question (“Where is the ON switch?”). There’s no need to include a treatise on the evolution of the research done on how the location of the switch was decided by the design committee.

Read moreInterview: 563 Media’s Tech Writer, Keisuke Hoashi

Write What You Don’t Know (Yet)

Write to discover what you want to say. Photo by David Iskander on Unsplash

Photo by David Iskander on Unsplash

Note: This post was originally published on my blog in April 2008.

Right now I’m reading a book called The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. The author, Louise Erdrich, is one of my favorite writers. I first learned of her when I was a freshman at Dartmouth. About fifteen of us who’d designated creative writing as a potential major were invited to meet with her and her husband, Michael Dorris, at the Montgomery House, where they were living as fellows and resident scholars.

I don’t remember much about the meeting, except that they served tea, cookies, and chocolate covered strawberries. The authors gave us some advice, then invited us to ask questions. I’d never raised my hand to ask or answer a single thing in thirteen years of public education, but now, newly collegiate, I was surprisingly bold.

My question: “Everyone always tells writers to write what they know. But we’re only eighteen years old and nothing’s happened to us yet. What are we supposed to write about?”

Read moreWrite What You Don’t Know (Yet)

Useful Writing Tools — Five Digital Favorites

Note: This post was originally published on 563media.com.

Choosing digital writing tools can be just as idiosyncratic as selecting a favorite pen or brand of notebook. Keeping that in mind, here are five of my favorite tools for productivity and creativity:

1. Write or Die software, by Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab 

The concept is simple. Set a timer and a word count, then enter your text in a box. If you don’t reach your writing quota by deadline, suffer the consequences—a loud, unpleasant alarm prodding at you, or worse—your writing being erased whenever your fingers stop moving. Your choice.

I love the simplicity. Great for when I need a little extra prod or the pressure of a deadline.

The downside: There’s always the chance your browser will freeze up or quit while you’re writing. This is less likely if you have a newer computer and a stable browser, and no other windows open at the time. Fortunately, more recent versions of this software include autosave options.

Link: Write or Die

Read moreUseful Writing Tools — Five Digital Favorites