Re: I'm taking my marbles and going home...

Subject: Re: I'm taking my marbles and going home...
From: "John Fleming" <johntwrl -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2002 01:41:31 +0000

On Tue, 13 Aug 2002 12:40:24 -0700, while chained to a desk in the scriptorium, bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com (Bruce Byfield) wrote:

$Grant, Christopher wrote:
$|>Technical Writers don't need to =be= experts, they just need $|>=access= to experts.
$| Sorry, but I can't disagree more.
$I wish I'd said that. Thanks for a listing of reasons why you need to $know your subject.

I think there are two sides to the issue.

On the one hand, having some background in the field can give the wirter a leg up. It shortens the time needed with the SMEs. It reduces the number of corrections that must be made after each draft. And it helps produce a document more cost effectively.

On the other hand, as someone pointed out, the writer needs to be someone who can develop expertise as part of doing the job. That means being able to navigate potentially steep learning curves in a fairly short period of time.

We don't always come to the job with the best background for the job. If we have some, it helps. If we don't, can we learn enough fast enough to do the job?

When this issue cropped up in this thread, I first leaned towards the side of defending the need for some expertise. I can think of lots of writing I've done where having some expertise was invaluable.

Then I started thinking, if background is so important, why am I doing the job I am doing now? Officially, it requires a masters degree in the social science--ideally sociology or criminology. What have I got? A bachelors degree in engineering with a follow-up bachelors in economics/English. Yet the folks who hired me for the job seem happy with what I am doing for them. (By the way, my predecessor in the job had a background in veterinary medicine and epedemiology--and she had the job for soemthing like seven or eight years.)

Ultimately, I think it all comes down to one thing. Can you convivnce the person who is paying good money for your work that you can do the job?

John Fleming
Technical Writer and SAS Programmer
Edmonton, Canada

Please respond to the group. My address is set to reject e-mail from senders not in my address book.

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