Tom Johnson, Technical Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Tom Johnson, technical writer

Hi, I’m Tom. I’m a technical writer in the San Francisco Bay area.

I’m a technical writer in California’s San Francisco Bay area (specifically San Jose), working at a gamification company writing mostly API and SDK documentation for a SaaS product.

On this blog, which focuses on technical writing, I write about topics such as the following:

  • Search and findability
  • Visual communication
  • Screencasting and video
  • API documentation
  • Information architecture
  • Content strategy

Were You Always a Technical Writer?

Like most technical writers, I stumbled into technical writing after working in other fields. I previously taught composition for two years at The American University in Cairo (Egypt), and then I worked as a copywriter in Florida.

After a while, I realized I needed more money to support my family, so I turned to technical writing and started working for a financial company, Raymond James. To my surprise, I found that I actually loved technical writing — a lot more than copywriting. Technical writing combined my love for writing with my fascination for technology.

I worked at Raymond James for a couple of years before heading out west to Utah, where I worked for the government, the LDS Church IT department, and then moved to California to work for a startup company called Badgeville.

What’s Your Educational Background?

I earned my undergraduate in English at Brigham Young University in Utah. After BYU, I earned an MFA in literary nonfiction at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

My degree in literary nonfiction carries over to the writing style on this blog. At times, I try to infuse my posts with story and literary devices, weaving narrative with exploration of a topic. My favorite genre is the personal essay. Some of my good posts, I like to think, are like mini-personal essays.

Do You Have a Personal Life?

Yes, I’m married and have four children.

me and my family

My wife, Shannon, also has a blog (called Seagull Fountain). We met at BYU in the Writing Fellows program (she was an English major too).

What else should I know about you?

Unlike many vendors and consultants, I’m a technical writer in the trenches, working for a company. This context helps me relate well to issues other technical writers are experiencing.

I like to keep an open mind and try new techniques and processes. Sometimes I change my mind on topics, so always keep the post date in mind.

Why do you write so much?

One of the most frequent questions people ask me is why I write so much, or how I find the time to write so much.

For answers to why I write, see this related post: Why I’m So Visible.

As for the time, we all make time for our hobbies, right? Even writing 30 minutes every couple of days will lead to a couple of posts a week.

My favorite quote about writing is by Erasmus, a 16th century Dutch renaissance humanist. He said:

The desire to write grows with writing.

This principle is even more true on a blog. When you write a good post, you get immediate feedback. The impact inspires you to write more. Blogging has so many more elements to it than mere writing. Blogging involves search engine optimization, publishing and blog platforms, social interaction and community, the world wide web, and more. Blogging makes writing a game.

How Do I Contact You?

If you have a question for me, or just want to drop me a line, send your feedback to the e-mail address below.

Tom Johnson
tom@idratherbewriting.com

San Francisco Bay area, California, USA

You can also contact me through other methods on my Contact page.