Re: Pseudowriters

Subject: Re: Pseudowriters
From: "Bonnie Granat" <bgranat -at- att -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 10:05:14 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>

>So let me get this straight... according to you the "real" writer is one
>- Plans rather that acts.
> (I consider planning a passive activity and writing an active one.)
>- Enforces standards rather than explores new designs.
>- Honors methodology above creativity.
>- Assumes the audience wants consistency above accuracy.
>- Cherishes order over flexibility

I said nothing of the sort, and you know it. I did, however, say the
following, and nothing here implies anything like what you've written in
your attempt to "get this straight". If you ever want to discuss what I
actually said (and not your fictional account of it), I'm game.

1. Both conventions and standards are important to your audience, although
pseudowriters think otherwise. It shows rather plainly in the writing of
pseudowriters, and in their speech. They often lecture others about what it
takes to be a good technical writer, but examination of the work they offer
shows they are pseudowriters. They stopped learning when they learned the
first thing about writing. That's all they know, and their work shows it.

2. Real writers write documents based on what their audiences need.
Pseudowriters think they are "writing documents". Pseudowriters think only
of themselves and attempt to convince anyone with the misfortune of being
within earshot that they are good writers. Pseudowriters are profoundly
insecure and work out their neuroses by trying to impress authentic writers.

3. Pseudowriters think editors do the work of administrative assistants and
have disdain for the conventions and standards that promote audience
comprehension and retention of information. Pseudowriters refuse to subject
themselves to anything but their own egos. There is no real desire to
communicate, so pseudowriters manage to make a living by "writing documents"
of low quality instead of communicating facts and ideas using methods,
conventions, and standards that are recognized as effective in promoting
reader understanding and retention.

4. Pseudowriters think writers are hired to "produce documentation". Real
writers know writers are hired to communicate a message to an audience.
Pseudowriters' last thought is of the audience, and it shows in their work.

5. Editors clean up after pseudowriters. They rewrite the often laughable
"document" that pseudowriters produce.

6. Pseudowriters think editors don't need to write. Pseudowriters think that
editors don't need to rewrite the product that pseudowriters spew forth.
Sadly, most pseudowriters don't have editors, so much of what is called
"documentation" is really pseudodocumentation, written by pseudowriters.

7. When pseudowriters who ignore standards and find themselves well above
need for conventions create a product, it is often puerile nonsense that
needs rewriting. Content written by pseudowriters is bad and needs a lot of
rewriting. Pseudowriters are also known for their lack of ability to design
a document and plan its contents. Editors clean up after all of this.

8. If you can't plan ahead, you're a pseudowriter. If you can't honor
conventions and standards, you're a pseudowriter. If you eschew methodology
because you are afraid you can't operate within its confines, you are also a
pseudowriter. If you don't plan your documents, you're a pseudowriter. If
you don't plan what you're going to say and when you're going to say it,
you're a pseudowriter. But if you haven't got an editor, you probably won't
ever be told the truth.

9. The task is not "producing documentation". That is the passive, sickly
of what we do. That is the attitude of the pseudowriter, who can think only
of himself. The question is not whether the person can "digest complex ideas
to produce documentation." The idea, which seems very strange to
pseudowriters, is to communicate that knowledge to other people.

10. Pseudowriters think that the plans of others are meaningless, and they
cannot imagine that a clear-headed person might come up with a clear-headed
plan and write a document that will be helpful to its audience.
Pseudowriters can't think too clearly, so they assume everyone else's plans
are as meaningless as their own would be if they tried to make them.

11. Pseudowriters think planning and consistency are "not the key". In fact,
they are the key. They are the source of all else that a writer does.
Without a plan, pseudowriters come up with gibberish. What's truly sad is
that they think their documents are of high quality. Real writers, however,
see immediately that they were created by pseudowriters, who can use
language no better than they can plan or be considerate of their audience.

12. The last concern of a pseudowriter is communicating with the audience.
are important, but quality writing based on planning isn't a priority.

Bonnie Granat

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