RE: Do I have to understand the material?

Subject: RE: Do I have to understand the material?
From: "Anameier, Christine A - Eagan, MN" <CANAMEIE -at- email -dot- usps -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 10:08:00 -0400

Alan Miller wrote:
> Only an expert can know what questions to ask and what
> questions _not_ to ask. Writers ignorant of the subject
> waste the SME's time asking basic questions the writer
> should already know. . . .

I don't know about the rest of you folks, but in every job I've had, the
"subject" is not something you can possibly know before you take the job. If I'm
documenting proprietary/internal software that's unique to my organization,
there is NO way I can be an expert in it before I walk in the door. All I can do
is try to get up to speed quickly on the job. My selling point for jobs like
these has not been "I'm an expert in ______"; it's been "I learn fast."

> Those writers with deep and broad technical backgrounds
> and knowledge have the distinct advantage in the market.
> Font fondlers and document beauticians are going to
> have a difficult time selling themselves as "technical"
> writers.

There's a third category of tech writer we're ignoring here--the ones who aren't
programmers or engineers, but who can learn a subject quickly and then turn
around and teach it to their readers. You DO need to know the material... but
not the moment you walk in the door.


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