Re: Are you a writer?

Subject: Re: Are you a writer?
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 16:34:11 -0500

Woo Hoo! Round 3000 of one of the eternally recurring Tecwhirler debates rages

Between the dozens of people saying exactly the same thing and the existential
crises from others if someone suggests they're not technical enough or enough of
a writer it's getting difficult to filter content out of the noise.

Seems to me even when there is an issue of how technical, or how much of a
writer, or how much of an editor, people are taking Boolean positions in a
situation with millions of valid combinations and mixes. It's all very much like
arguing vehemently over which particular shade of light or dark pink constitutes

To put my own perverse take on the debate, and actually add something that might
be of use, consider this:

A techwriter to an engineer or developer is very much like a coach to an
athlete. Why? Because you can't coach a sport without understanding the
fundamentals. But, some coaches are able to coach multiple disciplines and some
coaching skills are universal. The coach may know what it takes to run, jump,
skate, or otherwise perform. But, many could never execute the maneuvers they
coach. Some but not all coaches may have been athletes. Some athletes and
certainly not all may become coaches. Some coaches may indeed become athletes.
Heck, a good coach could probably become proficient in short order as a coach in
a sport they've never seen before.

In all of that mess, nobody argues you're not a real ski jump coach unless you
can ski jump. It might help, it might make you a better coach, but not being
able to doesn't exclude you from coaching.

The same relationship exists between artists and critics, or teachers and

So could somebody tell me why we spend (waste) so much bandwidth arguing how
much of an engineer we have to be to be a real techwriter? (Or if the topic is
editing vs. writing it's all like arguing who's a trainer and who's a coach.)

We've all agreed that angels dance on the heads of pins, all we've been arguing
about (for days? months? years?) is how many.

Eric L. Dunn

PS: If you're reading this Keith, this is another subject for that list I
think... ;-)

Now's a great time to buy RoboHelp! You'll get SnagIt screen capture
software and a $200 onsite training voucher FREE when you buy RoboHelp
Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

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