It is always good to keep your (in)abilities well bracketed. #suyogsutra

I know what I can do. But, I also know what I cannot – which is equally important. That helps me set achievable goals and workable standards so that I keep myself motivated. Although, it may not always be a great idea to not strive for goals that are beyond your capacity. But, it is seldom that you try to achieve something that you know you can’t!

By keeping the inabilities “well bracketed”, I mean keeping them well in check. Brackets, here, are symbolic to categorized restriction (premise?). So, when you can keep a check on what you cannot do (or find impossible to achieve at a point in time), you can easily calculate what you can do.

At times, knowing what to reject works better than knowing what to accept. And, bracketing your inabilities is an important tactic in the strategy of rejection.

– Suyogsutra

My Non-Work Time Activities

Last month, on one of our regular visits to a temple, my wife and I met one of her cousins. During our interaction, which mostly concerned our families, we got to know something about each of our job profiles. One of the questions during our conversation was, “What do you do when you are not working Suyog?” That was a good question because I did not have a proper list of activities that I do when I am not working.

So, not exactly a non-work time bucket list, but here’s what I enjoy doing:

Reading

This is one of the must-haves. You can see me lying down on a couch with a book, especially on the weekends. It is so much relaxing to not be governed by the clock. But, unlike a lot of us who do not like reading from their mobile devices, I like reading from my iPad mini or Windows Phone. It’s so much easier to carry those, especially when I’m traveling.

I’ve not written much on what I read, except for this list of must-read books for technical communicators. I don’t have a typical list, but I could come up with some names that I liked reading the most. I am sure you too have a list of your own. If you don’t, get inspired and make one!

Cooking

Yes! It is one of those activities that I love to do when I am not working. I help my mother and wife in the kitchen. And the best part is that we don’t have a list of favorites. We cook what we feel like at that moment. So, cheese and garlic bread, Indian Chaat, fruit shake, milk chocolates, snacks, Khao Phat Che (Thai fried rice)… the list is endless.

Food

Photos of some of the delicious dishes. I wish you could taste those!

Playing

I love to play strategy-based games on my iPad mini. When I am not helping my wife in the kitchen, I am accompanying her (at least I think so) by sitting there, playing games on the iPad. It is fun to talk to her, pretend as if I am listening, and still managing to do what I want to do! I bet she’ll laugh when she reads this!

Photography

There are a lot of those “aspiring photographers” who you see are carrying a DSLR, but apparently not knowing how to completely put those to use! Fortunately (or otherwise), I own only a point-and-shoot, compact camera.

I get to use the camera only during monsoon, but I don’t give up on the occasional chances that I get once in a while. I like macro photography and look forward to the day I get to buy a good-quality DSLR. I know the basics of photography and I think everybody in my family likes to see me cultivate a hobby like that. My current bouquet of photographs is available on Flickr.

Some macro-photography experiments.

Some macro-photography experiments.

Writing (mostly, blogging)

But, that’s not all I do when I am not working. I love to write. And, you’ve seen me write quite often on topics that relate to my profession. I currently am working on a book, and I hope to complete (and publish) it someday. <I have my fingers crossed to that!>

I’m sure that even you do something to spend your non-work time. I would love to see you share something.

Is Technical Writing Skill or Ability?

I often say this to myself: Anyone can write, but everyone cannot become a writer. But, when we can (and do) learn to write, why can’t we learn to become writers?

Language is a skill, which can be learned and mastered over a period of time. We must learn to follow the rules. Although subconsciously, notice that we almost always associate “writing” with “ability.” But, if that is true, why is writing (which is an ability) regarded as a profession (which is a skill)?

I recently read that writing features in a list of top 15 jobs that have survived for centuries, and assume it will continue to be there through the next century. This contradicts our current thread of discussion. Is technical writing really a skill or an ability? We can look to answer that question. But, first we must find if there are any rules for writing.

Now, the answer depends on what you would like to write. If you are writing prose, your work – in general – should be involving and interconnected, and contain a story. If you are writing verses, the work should have flow and be rhythmic and soulful. Still, none of these are rules. None of these [guidelines] can either be taught or evaluated. It is only the response to your work (or if I may say the reader connect) that can be evaluated.

So, can our work be evaluated based on the response? Certainly, it can be! And, it is a skill to drive the intended response. And, hence writing is a skill as well; a skill, which has some underlying principles, guidelines, and rules that govern the overall structure and quotient of impact and usability.

My take? I think, as I try to answer this question, the following points become noteworthy:

  • It takes a lot of practice to practice technical writing.
  • You need to be a writer (or think like one) – have a natural flair for writing, as they say!
  • You should love using technology.
  • It takes a lot of reading. But, read quality material.
  • You should enjoy walking on the thin line that separates skills and abilities

One last thought: You can have the inborn ability to smell the ingredients, but it still takes some learning to hone to skills of cooking. You can have the inborn ability to understand the poetry, but it still takes some learning to home your singing skills. On the flip side, you need to have some inborn qualities that match with your skills to create the “X-factor.” So, my take: Skill is to language; Ability is to writing. And, technical writing is skill-oriented ability.

Wabi-Sabi and Technical Communication

Wabi-Sabi is the Japanese window of perspective of the acceptance of imperfection. It centres the thought that everything in this world is imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent. And, when everything is made that way, we must strive continuously for perfection, by making it a habit to improve ourselves and everything we do. This post is a call to realize the importance of imperfection in our lives. Imperfection, which I believe is quite perfectly placed as the first step towards perfection.

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Rhetoric Series: Part 1

This is the first part of the series of posts. The second part is appropriately linked in the comments section of the post. Rhetoric, as a study, is increasingly becoming relevant in the technical communication industry. Writers, editors are now feeling the need to incorporate a rhetorical approach to improving the effectiveness of their work… and hope that it improves the readability (readership?).

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yad yad ãcarati…

yad yad ãcarati śreşţhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramãņaṁ kurute lokas tad anuvartate

Whichever and however a great personality conducts himself common men follow; whatever he accepts as authority that and that alone certainly all the world will follow. Therefore, a leader must preach what he is taught and teach as he preaches.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3, Verse 21

The Knowledge of the Knowledge.

There isn’t anyone in this world who knows more than they don’t know. But, there are those who feel that way! Based on the famous thought from Confucius, this post relates our knowledge about knowledge, and the connection of it with technical communication; read on.

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