RE: Practice makes Perfect

Subject: RE: Practice makes Perfect
From: "Wally" <Wally -at- pctrader -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 07:15:51 -0700

Andrew is right on here. One of the best compliments I ever got as a TW
came from a sr. network engineer after I figured out how to take 5-6
pages of complex 'engineer speak' and reduce it to one page with a
diagram. He said something like, "We (about 4 of them) spent 2-3 weeks
writing that, and I never would have believed anyone could reduce it to
one page AND make it much clearer." That did not come easily for me, and
I must have rewritten it at least a dozen times over several days before
the 'light' finally came on. IOWs, practice usually does make things
closer to 'perfect' - whatever that may be..., AND like anything else,
good tech writing takes work.

Wally Glassett
Technical Documentation
Digital Integrator, Inc.
Incline Village, NV

Adnrew wrote (in part):

Writing, like any skill, takes practice...

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
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
alone use it.

I would bet that if you pulled all the tech writers in the world
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
not synonymous with writing. They are fundamentally different tasks
requiring different competencies. They also are not as intellectually
straining (IMO).

Andrew Plato

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