TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Sean asked if some us us were "writing and selling creatively, who moved into technical writing as a new challenge and to earn a sustainable wage from their writing skills (poets don't earn money - just kudos and bacchanalian charm....)."
Writing creatively has been part of my life since I learned to write. I've made a whopping $100 from it -Canadian, a mere fraction of Jane's 200 pounds! That said, I never tried to make a living that way, it never even occurred to me. However, my background in literature and writing somehow lead me to cultural journalism, which ended up really irritating me (picture it -me on phone with PR person from snotty modern dance company: "Can you please tell me what a "fusion of light and movement combining the ethereal force of corporeal essence" means?" PR, in fake Parisian accent: "I don't understand what you mean, zis means exactly what iz written on the press release.") I found the pay was terrible ("Write a feature; here's one hundred dollars"), and I realized I wasn't taking it seriously enough to put in the time in would take to make it to the top.
Part of what appealed to me -and still does- about technical writing is that it is unpretentious, task and goal-oriented, and I feel very productive when I'm doing it. I see tangible results that have an impact. It's challenging, since it requires constantly learning new concepts well enough to be able to explain them clearly. And I have to agree with Jane that tech writing has made me a better writer. I learn invaluable lessons in form, content, style, grammar almost every day. And when you have a job, the pay's not bad.
So, do I consider myself a frustrated writer who has settled for tech. writing? No way. I'm a practical person who figured out what works for me. Have I met bad tech writers who came from a creative writing background? Don't get me started, we could be here all day. I don't think anyone who writes creatively is necessarily cut out to be a technical writer. And I do think that often, you need a fair bit of creativity to write efficiently as a TW.
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