Damnit Jim, I'm a Writer, not a Programmer

Subject: Damnit Jim, I'm a Writer, not a Programmer
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 13:25:51 -0700 (PDT)

--- Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com> wrote:

> In fact, a class helps to reinforce the impression that being a writer
> is a social role, rather than a practical function. Writers of various
> sorts who earn extra money teaching tell me that they keep seeing the
> same students over and over. For these students, taking classes and
> critiquing each other's work is the way they socialize. They're an
> extreme example, but they serve to emphasize that, in many ways, the
> classroom is the antithesis of the writer's life.

Strange, but I noticed this too when I was in college. It seemed like
there were people on a permanent quest to "learn about writing". Its like
the writers who sit in coffeehouses TALKING about their brilliant works,
but never sitting down and writing them.

I think tech-writing gets a lot of these writers. They want to live the
life of Ernest Hemmingway but with a nice tidy paycheck each week and a
stable set of benefits. The THOUGHT of writing something and sharing their
thoughts is more attractive than the tepid-drudgery than actually doing
it. They are usually also the first to proclaim how they're a writer (and
therefor endowed with some magical powers) and not a programmer.

I am reminded of a (brief) conversation I had with Chuck Palahniuk the
author of Fight Club. He said he wrote Fight Club based on an experience
he had at work. He had gotten the crap beat out of him while camping and
for weeks people just stared at him at work because his face was all black
and blue. The story was fun to tell all his friends and such. But when he
sat down to write Fight Club, based on that experience, he realized how
tremendously difficult it was to transform that easily tossed off story
into a plot and characters. It was so much easier to just babble the story
to friends than it was to sit down and actually write the book.

That same principle carries over into tech writing. The act of dreaming up
fantastic ideas, designs, and procedures is a snap. But the physical act
of putting all those brilliant thoughts into action is really hard. Your
brain moves much faster than the fingers.

Talk is cheap, text matters.

Andrew Plato

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Re: Thinking Patterns (was RE: Interviews (5 Year Question)): From: Bruce Byfield

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