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