RE: How are technical writers perceived?

Subject: RE: How are technical writers perceived?
From: "Suzanne Townsend" <suzyt -at- hfx -dot- eastlink -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 08:41:12 -0400

Someone wrote:

> It is largely the idea that a technical
> writer has to know as much as the SMEs going in to the job that I disgree
> with -- the notion that if you don't have technical expertise in a
> particular *area* you should not be a technical writer. That is what I
> disagree with

I also disagree with that, for certain (maybe most) tech writing jobs.
Forever and an age I've been writing end-user documentation for some fairly
complicated programs. Because I come to the product totally naive and
without prejudice, I uncover lots of assumptions other writers closer to the
product/technology miss. Call me a Professional Idiot. I do! :o ... it

Technical writers should know how to write well (for their intended audience
and delivery format, blah caveat blah) and should be able to figure out how
things work. Beyond that, you have a specialized talent. Definitely
specialization can take you farther ($, prestige, complicated products), but
it is specialized. Most tech writers are generalists and thank goodness for

Technical writing is like investigative journalism. If you don't have a
clue, you go out and find one. "What doesn't lie? The evidence doesn't lie."


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