Re: How are Technical Writer's Perceived

Subject: Re: How are Technical Writer's Perceived
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 11:08:34 -0800

lestatvampire39 -at- hotmail -dot- com wrote:

If an accountant is stereotyped as boring, a lawyer as money grabbing, and a used car saleman as .....well we all know - What is the stereotype for a tech writer?

As a contractor by preference, I probably get around to more companies than the average writer. From my experience, I'd say that tech-writers have major credibility problems. They're accused not only of lacking technical knowledge, but also lacking the willingness to acquire it. Contractors especially are seen as making promises that they can't fulfill, and of being generally unprofessional. I don't say that there is necessarily any truth in these generalities, but these are the impressions that I generally have to work against each time I start working with a new company.

The solution? For me, it's doing everything I can to counter these perceptions. If I don't have the technical knowledge I need coming into the job, I make special efforts to learn it quickly - and to be seen to be learning. When planning a project, I try to be realistic and to explain the assumptions that my time lines are based on. I make deadlines at just about every cost. I set high standards for writing and layout, and come as close to meeting them as the circumstances permit. I submit bills promptly.

Even so, it's an uphill battle. It usually takes about six to twelve weeks to prove myself to new clients. But, I admit it's gratifying to hear the surprise in their voices when I deliver decent work on time and without any airs. I almost prefer hearing that surprise to money (but don't tell my clients that!).

--
Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

"The following morning, the headlines were tall,
'Really, it was inevitable,
Mr. Dumpty was drunk when he fell from the wall,
He was already cracked, and shell-shocked and all.'"
- Tommy Sands, "Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed"






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