Re: on technical writers

Subject: Re: on technical writers
From: Sandra -dot- Friend -at- cbs -dot- fiserv -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 13:28:54 -0500


Sean queries:
>Is there anyone who WAS 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....).

And I reply: absolutely!

Before I started working full-time as a technical writer (as opposed to
earlier jobs, where I did technical writing as a part of my many
responsibilities), I'd been writing and selling nonfiction articles --
outdoors and travel, mostly -- for several years. I tried to live off it
for one year, but couldn't shovel out from under old debt. So I sought out
a full-time technical writing job to both pay the bills and to see how well
my skills would translate. I'd been an IBM midrange programmer/analyst for
many years, mostly in small shops.

As it turned out, it worked out well for both me and the company. I gained
valuable experience at project management and organization of technical
materials, and they gained the helpful knowledge of a "technical" technical
writer who could talk shop with the software designers and programmers and
earn their respect. The tight writing skills I'd honed while doing magazine
articles and writing science books contributed value as well.

However, I didn't see technical writing as a long-term career, just a
stopgap measure to get myself financially settled. I had NO interest in
going back to programming, despite the better pay, since I'd burned out on
it. But now that my career as a freelance writer is finally taking off,
I'm more interested in learning new things to educate my audience, and
having interesting life experiences (such as the backpacking trip to Asia I
took before starting this job) which I can then relate in print. So....I'm
moving on from tech writing to write nonfiction full-time, and to dabble in
fiction when I have the time.

Cheers, Sandy
http://members.aol.com/sfriendfla <-- info about my books

Sandra Friend
Technical Writer
Fiserv CBS International


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