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Five Ways Engineering is Like Writing

In my last blog post, I promised a part 2 to “All the Things I Didn’t Say at the Writing Conference, Part 1.” Instead, I dusted off a little piece I wrote in a long ago and far away time.  Inspired by my 20-plus years at Unisys Corporation. I still hope to write part 2 for “All the Things I Didn’t Say….” In the meantime, here’s:

custom_grid_item_3_1378304808Five Ways Engineering is Like Writing

Before I became a so-called professional writer, I worked in the corporate world. I started out as a technical editor, which sounds more technical than it really was.

When that gig ended, I transferred to a manufacturing facility and worked in Inventory Control – the ultimate in extraneous paperwork. And micro-management. And total boring-ness.

After that, I moved to Configuration Management. There, we made sure software bills-of-material were properly configured in the database (hopefully, you haven’t dozed off by now) so that orders could be manufactured and shipped to global customers before the world was flat – or at least before that book was published.

That position went through a few more name changes before I was officially anointed a “manufacturing engineer.” Our boss told us it put us in a higher salary range. Thoughtful of him.

Connecting the dots between my old corporate life and my current role as a professional writah, here are five ways in which engineering is like writing. Really.

  1. Jazzed by problem-solving. Engineers love to figure out how stuff works, then take things apart and put them back together when they don’t. Don’t writers do the same thing when they struggle with a piece that isn’t working?
  2. Quality control. Engineers are fascinated by quality – achieving top results using better and more efficient methods after much trial and error. Aren’t writers fascinated by quality too? Especially with the editing and revising required to make a piece as-close-to-perfect as it’s going to get?
  3. Work alone. Engineers aren’t afraid to work alone and focus until goals are achieved. Need I spell this out? Writers work alone. Until goals are achieved.
  4. Independent thinkers. Engineers are independent thinkers. They don’t care what others think as long as they are confident in the logic of their own thinking. Writers have to be independent thinkers too and believe in their work, even when others may not like what they have to say or how it gets said.
  5. Outside-the-box thinking. The best engineers aren’t afraid to think outside-the-box, as cliche as that term has become. Writers have to think outside the box too if they are going to become successful even when the odds are stacked against them.

In the unlikely event that you are an engineer-turned-writer, how you do think engineering is like writing?

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