Practice makes Perfect

Subject: Practice makes Perfect
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 19:41:35 -0700 (PDT)

<kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com> wrote

> Before Andrew launches a Bunker Buster
> at me, let me hasten to add that it's obvious that Andrew CAN write - I
> LOVE his writing! But he may be so used to writing well that he forgets
> it does not come naturally to all.

Writing, like any skill, takes practice. I am not some genius writer who
got a PhD in Deep n' Sensitive Profundity - I've just been practicing for
a long time. Honestly, one of the best ways to practice writing is to get
involved in heated debates via the Internet, which I have been doing since
the late 1980s. Debating on-line is hard because it requires you to
effectively and persuasively express complex ideas to people who hate you.

The ability to express complex ideas in a clear manner is valuable and
intimidating. Throughout history, the people who have risen to rule are
usually people who can express a complex idea in a simple way. They
weren't born with that skill, they learned it by practicing.

Unfortunately, a lot of people think that moving text around and setting
up styles in FrameMaker makes them a good communicator. In fact - it makes
them a competent Frame user, not a skilled writer. Communication is an
intellectual task that is "tool independent." There are many great
communicators out there that probably couldn't even install FrameMaker let
alone use it.

I would bet that if you pulled all the tech writers in the world together,
probably 15% to 25% actually WRITE/COMMUNICATE (for their job) on a
regular basis. The remainder primarily format, maintain, and edit other
people's words and ideas.

There is nothing wrong with this - its just that formatting and editing is
not synonymous with writing. They are fundamentally different tasks
requiring different competencies. They also are not as intellectually
straining (IMO).

If you want to improve your writing skills - go find a place where those
skills are on the spot and try to stay afloat.

Andrew Plato

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