We're all writers. (was Re: He said...She said...He said...etc.)

Subject: We're all writers. (was Re: He said...She said...He said...etc.)
From: "Rob Writer" <piercedroo -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 10:57:54 -0600

Andrew's right about this one. So is Bonnie. And so are Bruce and Steve. What each of you consider to be a "technical writer" is accurate and true, especially in your own professional circle (which is the most important one anyway).

There are thousands of technical writers (that's what they call themselves, and that's what they were hired as) who do very little other than edit and reformat the original thought of others, with little-to-no indepth knowledge of the concepts or technologies. Still, they are writers (says so on their busniess card and resume...good enough for me).

And there are thousands (or fewer) of technical writers who have devoted years of study and research into becoming a true SME in a specific or varitey of skills and subjects. Not only do they understand the core technology, but they understand the business problem that this technology addresses, they understand the psyche of the intended audience, and they can pontificate about the ROI of using this technology at such a level that one might become convinced that they invented the technology (which they may very well have).

So. Call us what you want. For my 2cents, we're all writers. Some just more technical than others. But...if you will bear with another 2 cents...I think that Andrew Plato sees some things much clearer than most of us (it has something to do with "been there-done that"). And most of his advice and opions are based on a thorough understanding of the tech writing industry and becoming a highly respected and successful writer/employer of writers.

While we are all writers, we are not all equally capable. If all you do is edit and reformat, your income and promotion cieling is very low (as is the prospect of work in lean times). But if you can "do it all"...you're a subject matter expert, you can write, edit, create templates, tweak fonts, adapt to any tool required or available to output your words, and you are master of your own domain...well, your limited only by the number of hours in the day. So, if you want to be a 50K writer keep believing that you don't have to be a content expert. But if you want to earn 100K+, then you better be an expert.

Rob -- who considers himself to be a technical writer, a SQL guru, and an intermediate Java programmer.

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