On not becoming discouraged?

Subject: On not becoming discouraged?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 09:01:52 -0500

Ellen Vanrenen reports: <<When I read all your postings, I am always
concerned with how very much I have to learn... Day to day work
you know how it is: it comes up; you do it. I really don't understand the
advanced postings you send. How do you all do and learn it all?>>

The fact is, everyone has tons of stuff to learn, and it takes time and
practice (using the learning) to actually be able to speak with some
knowledge on the various subjects we discuss here. You're relatively new to
techwr-l, and probably to technical communication too, but many of the
people you see responding have decades of experience in the business. It's
worth noting that of the ca. 5000 members of this list, fewer than 100
respond regularly to questions; that suggests the remaining 4900 are closer
to your situation than those of us in the more verbose class. <g> I'm a
relative newcomer, with only 15 years in the profession; others have 30+
years of experience. There's no way you're going to catch up with us
overnight because we've got too much of a head start. But in another decade,
I bet you'll be one of the ones passing along what you've learned along the
way, and 30 years down the road, someone's going to write to you sounding
discouraged by how much more you know.

So the thing to do is pick the most important skills and knowledge you need
to know _right now_, and pick up the rest of it as you go. One thing I've
learned along the way is that the most important skill we have (after
writing clearly, of course) is our ability to keep learning. Make sure you
know what the hot topics are, even if you don't have time to master them
now, and ask questions whenever we bury you in jargon and rocket science.
When you eventually have to use that accumulated knowledge, it'll be there
at the back of your mind. Learning tools is the easy part, and once you've
learned a few tools, learning new ones keeps on getting easier. Trust me on

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
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