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 11:48:18 -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.

I also disagree with that, for many tech writing projects (software-related
or not). Forever and an age I've been writing end-user documentation for
some fairly complicated programs, or making engineering documents readable
by John Q. Average. In software projects particularly, because I come to the
subject matter naive and without prejudice, I uncover many items other
writers closer to the product/technology miss because of assumptions they

Tech writers should know how to write first and foremost (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 income-wise. Most tech writers are
generalists. They are like investigative journalists. If they don't have a
clue about the subject, they go find one. ("What doesn't lie? The evidence
doesn't lie."--Grissom.)


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