My First Writers Piece for the Ministry of Testing

This blog was originally posted on Medium.

“I am not a writer” that is what I kept telling myself. I had written a few blogs and, not many of you will know this, I was part of a youth writers group in school to help with my reading difficulties. I am actually a published author from that. Yet I still considered myself hopeless!

When Rosie posted in the Ministry of Testing slack channel that she was looking for people to start creating content for the Dojo I thought I’d like to at least try. That is one thing I’ve learned since I discovered Ministry of Testing “don’t be afraid to put yourself out there”. Rosie agreed to add me to the channel and Trello board for this. I could read through all of the possible articles and pick one when I felt the time was right.

I’m pretty new to software testing so I guess that contributed to part of my reluctance. Then I saw the perfect article on the Trello board “30 days to get started in software testing”. I had just gotten started in software testing. I had followed a lot of links and articles that ended up being no help. It was difficult to sift through it all and I didn’t want others to have to do the same if I could help it. I was nervous but Melissa Eaden (hero by the way) said I could work on an outline and she would help me as it was my first serious piece.

I started with a brain pour of ideas into one of those lovely notebooks I got at TestBash. It really was a mess. Thankfully someone suggested I try Coggle, a free to use mind mapping tool. Now I was in business!

From the mind map it became very clear that this article wasn’t going to fit well with the “30 days of” format. I honestly thought I had screwed this up. This wasn’t the case though. Mel encouraged me that if that was the natural flow then it made sense to change the format, we could think about a new title once the article was written.

Then the real fun began. I still wanted the article to be 30 tasks or things. I wanted people to be able to check things off as they worked through them. You wouldn’t think it to look at the article but actually choosing what each task should be and the order they should go in took nearly as long as writing each task out!

I think now is the perfect time to thank Mel, Beren, Tony and Rosie for giving me so much feedback. I know it wasn’t easy for them because sometimes I really struggled to see the points they were making and the bigger picture but they stuck with me and I am forever grateful for that.

The fun thing about writing the article was I had so many links to really useful material and I had to figure out what to add to the article and what to keep to send to people who may read it. There was a fine balance between not terrifying the intended audience and retaining their interest. It was also interesting to put myself back in my shoes a year before I started writing the article “If I was me then would I find this useful”.

I also got to connect with lots of new testers on Twitter when I started writing. At times I would tweet a question for a part of my article, people would retweet, I would get new followers who would start a discussion with me about it. It really was an amazing experience to do!

Once the article was published I was in this weird daze. People from around the world started tweeting me and saying how useful they were finding it, maybe I wasn’t such a terrible writer after all!

In work an apprentice was hired to help me with testing, the first thing I handed him was 30 Things Every New Software Tester Should Learn. That was nearly two months ago, we’re still going back to it every day and we’re both learning more as we work through it again.

My first article with Ministry of Testing has taught me many things:

  1. I am maybe not a hopeless writer
  2. The Ministry of Testing writers group is a family, we support each other
  3. Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in, you might not think you can do it but you’ll never know unless you try
  4. At some point you need to stop editing or you will drive yourself crazy

Watch this space for the next article I’m working on!