07 November, 2009

The Writer’s Block

Recently, I got a chance to write about testing. A couple of testing magazines called for testing articles for their upcoming publications. I thought I should try. I have never written a formal article before. By formal, I mean writing about testing for testing magazines. I did think a couple of times to write for stickyminds before I started this blog, but then it never materialized. I wasn’t probably passionate enough to write at that time.

I thought of a topic and wrote an article with a friend of mine because we thought that both of us could clear the writing hurdles easier and faster than if each of us wrote articles on our own. We wrote it, got it reviewed by a few generous friends. One of them termed the article ‘Dangerous’ – yet was kind enough to review it. We emailed the article to the concerned person. We did not receive an acknowledgment email. I and my friend knew that it was a good first attempt, but maybe not good enough even to be acknowledged. I was left depressed, but thought that I should not give up.

I got lucky second time when I got an email from a very great tester asking me if I could write an article. I was excited. I chose a topic, brainstormed a bit, gathered a lot of information by speaking to my friends about the topic and reading up a little on a few related areas. I wrote the article the second time not to mention I wrote it all by myself. The same set of generous friends reviewed it and provided feedback. One of them thought that my article sounded like an ‘Attack’ to the intended audience. This time around I was deeply hurt. For a moment, I thought I was useless. I am still struggling with this article while I write this blog post.

In the last few years, I have not found anything as hard as writing about testing. This has been the most challenging task for me in a long time now. What is stopping me from writing about what I know about testing? Why is it that I am unable to write better though I have good written communication skills? At least my blog posts aren't that bad in terms of writing (I think so). At this point of time, I am thinking that the reason for my failure in writing about testing has got to do with the following:

1. Insufficient knowledge about the chosen topic
2. Inability to brainstorm in the right direction
3. Lack of widened knowledge (there is a need to know a lot more beyond testing in order to write better about testing)
4. Lack of experience (more the experience, wider the perspective)
5. Not reading enough testing books, articles, blogs etc

I have been watching a few testers who can just write about anything related to testing based on a few catchwords (theme) given to them. That can’t be magic for sure though I know it involves a lot of hard work to get to that stage. I am not worried about failing. I would be worried for sure if I did not learn from my failure. I have not given up yet. I think of chasing every little task that challenges me. I am going to give it my best shot yet again. I am hoping I will get better each time I fail.

It is important to start practicing writing. If you cannot write well and express your thoughts about testing, how will you succeed in convincing your developer to fix a bug by writing a not-so-good bug report. Start writing and get better at it. This is a very important skill in our day-to-day job as testers.

Happy Writing,
Parimala Shankaraiah
http://curioustester.blogspot.com

13 comments:

Mohan said...

There is a quote which goes something like this - A good judgement comes from experience and the experience comes from a poor judgement :)

I am glad you are heading in the right direction. Keep the hopes alive, that is the greatest virtue one can pocess! Also, i am not sure if you have read this - Einstein once said about his success. May be that I have succeeded in my Nth attempt in people's views. But the fact is I have learnt how to fail for N-1 times!

Keep going.. my best wishes are with you.

Pari said...

@Mohan
I am glad you are heading in the right direction. Keep the hopes alive, that is the greatest virtue one can pocess!


Thanks for your wishes Mohan. I have read both the quotes that you mentioned above. They are so much applicable to the state that i am in right now.

Thank You,
Parimala Shankaraiah

Anonymous said...

Pari,

I think you are too hard on yourself. I would like to read the article you wrote (if you honor me with that opporunity).

I learned so much from you in the foundations class.

Sincerely,
Molly Mahai
mmahai@yahoo.com

Pari said...

@Molly
I learned so much from you in the foundations class.


I learned a lot from you too. I am so honoured to be getting my work reviewed by you. I will send out a draft to you shortly.

I am also glad to know that you read my blog.

Thank You,
Parimala Shankaraiah

wLW_yZElwZeyd4AdSUQXcYuXprXAKw-- said...

Have you considered applying to attend the Writing about Testing workshop planned for Durango, CO? I believe it was mentioned on the software-testing mailing list. If you know the foundations class (which I assume is BBST Foundations), then you probably also know the software-testing Yahoo mailing list..

Mark Waite said...

Ugh. Sorry about the random mumbo-jumbo on the "who said" line of the previous post. I'm Mark Waite. Apparently when I used OpenID to authenticate, I should not have placed my OpenID URL there. Still learning about OpenID...

Issi Hazan-Fuchs said...

From what you write, the critique you got about your writing was that it is “dangerous”, or that it will “Attack” the audience. I would be more concerned if the criticism was that the material is boring, not original or not established from logical aspect. Off course, a “nice” article is less likely to get criticism, so it could get along with not being established enough (logically or fact wise) but also less likely to get recognized or have any added value except for being another summary of a well known topic.

Pari said...

@Mark Waite
Have you considered applying to attend the Writing about Testing workshop planned for Durango, CO?


Hi Mark. Thanks for the information. I am aware of this workshop. But I stay in Bangalore, India and may not be able to attend the workshop. However, I am a part of Writing about Testing google mailing list and Software-testing yahoo mailing list. I have to credit a lot of my learning in writing to both these groups. I just found your blog by following your link. Will be reading shortly.


@Issi Hazan-Fuchs
I would be more concerned if the criticism was that the material is boring, not original or not established from logical aspect.


I once got a comment as 'boring' as well :D. Luckily, the strenght in my writing is I keep it original and not picking it from somewhere. There is a threat if what I wrote reads similar to what is out there already. There is also a threat if I am too influenced by someones writing and those thoughts take over my own. I am still learning here and its been a tough wonderful journey

Thank You,
Parimala Shankaraiah

Anonymous said...

What is stopping me from writing about what I know about testing? ===>Very True....

Well, i too struck up with this area....& fighting(in process...) to come out from this...

&

Anyways, my heart-full wishes for your future endeavors....


Thanks,
Sam...

yvettefrancino said...

Don't be discouraged, Parimala. It is difficult to know what the different trade magazines are looking for and they probably get a lot of submissions. Keep writing on your blog -- you're able to reach a very wide audience this way. Are you a member of Quality Testing? They're just starting a new magazine, QT. http://qualitytesting.info. SoftwareTestingClub is starting a new magazine as well. Best of luck!

Pari said...

@Yvette Francino
Are you a member of Quality Testing? They're just starting a new magazine, QT. http://qualitytesting.info


Thanks for this information. I was unaware of QualityTesting magazine. I am excited about the STC magazine as well.

Thank You,
Parimala Shankaraiah

BugMagnate said...

I agree with you that Testers need to have very good writing skills and in my views its not something that someone is born with, It has to be developed. I am also in the same situation though not for writing an article but writing in general.
All the best for your article...I am waiting for it.

Pari said...

@BugMagnate
I am also in the same situation though not for writing an article but writing in general.


We are sailing in the same boat :-). Don't give up. It seems very hard at times, but once you get past this block, you can surpass a lot of your peers who are better than you in writing.

Happy Writing,
Parimala Shankaraiah