Re: "Real" Tech Writers

Subject: Re: "Real" Tech Writers
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 05:48:04 -0700 (PDT)

--- Elizabeth Klisiewicz <eklisiewicz -at- attbi -dot- com> wrote:

> I don't know if you'd call me a "real" tech writer if that definition means
> I need education in that area. My degree is in electrical engineering and
> when I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do.

I think if we did a poll, we might find that a lot of us came to Technical
Writing without having taken formal courses in the discipline. Certainly, I
didn't. I worked for nearly 10 years as a development programmer (for which I
had no degree either) before I went back to school and got a couple of degrees
in English. I had decided to be a writer (notice that I didn't say I had
decided to be a Technical Writer), and I felt I needed a better grounding in
English in order to do that.

Like you, I drifted into Technical Writing. I wanted to write, and I found
myself needing a job again. A TW job opened up at the company for which I had
worked as a programmer. What I learned quickly was that, at some level, writing
was writing. The writer needs to understand what her purpose is, who his
audience is, how the audience needs to be approached to meet the purpose.

Of course, a TW also gets into things like layout and design. I use a lot more
bullets than I ever did in other types of writing I had done. Perhaps the
biggest lesson I learned in that, for me, the job of being a Technical Writer
is one of learning, of being open to new things, or always knowing that I have
to learn new things and learn them well enough to explain them (to meet the
needs of the audience and the purpose of the document).

To me, that's what a "real" Technical Writer does. All the other
stuff--language proficiency, tools, graphics, etc.--are really just tools to do
the job. Most of the people who are Technical Writers pick up the tools parts
of the job fairly well. The "real" Technical Writers have a passion for
understanding, for getting it right, and for explaining things to others in
ways they can understand and use the information given them.

Tom Murrell
mailto:tmurrell -at- columbus -dot- rr -dot- com
Personal Web Page - Last Updated 06/16/02
--Proud Vietnam Veteran. I am NOT a victim.--

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"Real" Tech Writers: From: Elizabeth Klisiewicz

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