RE: Writing: better or worse after years on the job?

Subject: RE: Writing: better or worse after years on the job?
From: "Jane Carnall" <jane -dot- carnall -at- digitalbridges -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 14:56:38 +0100

Rowena Hart wrote:
>While reviewing some help topics that I
>wrote recently, I started to ponder whether
>my writing has improved or declined after a
>few years working as a technical writer.

Sometime in 1991, I read Stephen King's book on horror writing, _Danse
Macabre_, in which he declares that you become a writer by sitting down and
writing for at least an hour every day for 10 years. And I thought, well,
I've *done* that: I'm a writer.

I've now been a professional technical writer for 7 years, and yes, I think
my writing has improved, but then, I think my writing has been consistently
improving from the awful beginnings of 20 years ago. (Can you say Bad
Fantasy Novel? I wrote three of them before I was 16. I even finished one.)
I always think my writing is good now. I always look back on my writing of
five years ago and think "But look what I could have done better!"

What I have noticed specifically about being a pro technical writer is that
my self-editing self-proofing skills are *way* better. I'm much better at
picking up on little telling details and self-contradictions. I've learned a
lot more about using word-processing as an editing tool. I've learned to be
the enemy of woffle! (<g> Poor woffle: I visualise it small and fluffy,
running for cover...) More abstractly, I think knowing for sure that I can
write a simple descriptive sentence/paragraph about *anything* has boosted
my confidence as a writer. Plus, being *paid* to write is a bonus!

And more broadly: there is a style of writing appropriate to technical
writing, just as there is a style deemed appropriate for academia, just as
there is a style of non-sexist writing: and each time I have learned a
specific style I discover that my general ability as a wordsmith cranks up a
notch and learning the next necessary style becomes easier. I think writing
as a technical writer - self-critically and purposefully - does nothing but
good: though it's true it's harder to sit down to my keyboard at home when
I've spent 8 hours typing at work.

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Digital Bridges, Scotland
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone.
In time the whole world will be mine, and then the universe, all mine, mine,
and mine alone....

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Writing: better or worse after years on the job?: From: Hart, Rowena

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