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I have been following the technical vs. writing skills discussion. IMHO, I
believe that both are important for prospective technical writers. I come
from the liberal arts end. When I was looking for technical writing jobs, I
was banking on the notion that knowing how to write would get me a job, and
that I would learn the technical aspect on the job. Well--I found out the
hard way that many employers look for people with at least some technical
knowledge, and that many of them are not willing to take the time to impart
the knowledge to someone who can write. I recently read an article in a
local STC newsletter that those of us who entered technical writing from a
liberal arts background must learn to become technical. What I do is read
and do research on the technical subjects that I must deal with in my job,
so that I have some idea on what I am writing about.
We should not neglect the graphical and visual aspect of technical writing
either. On the job, I have found a new meaning to the Chinese proverb that a
picture is worth a thousand words. I am not just a writer--I must deal with
pictures as well.
The most successful technical writers are those who are able to communicate
technical information in the most effective manner to the appropriate
audience. This is a unique skill. If somebody cannot or does not have the
potential to do this, he or she does not belong in technical writing.
Curtis R. Brautigam
Nursery Supplies, Inc.