Re: Subject Matter Expertise-YES!

Subject: Re: Subject Matter Expertise-YES!
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 08:12:26 -0800 (PST)

<kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com> wrote...

> What does a proponent of the "you need to be an expert before you write a
> single word" school do in that circumstance? Refuse? Quit? Do you ONLY
> accept work that falls within your expertise? In this market, I don't feel
> I have that option.

You're missing the point Keith. You don't need to be an full-blown expert, you
need to possess expertise. Big difference.

And when you posses expertise in one area, it often translates into other
areas. If a person approached me and said, "write a document on fluid dynamics"
I would not consider myself qualified to do that. If they hired me to do that,
it would be a dumb thing, since I know nothing of fluid dynamics. That is why
those looking to enter tech writing need to consider very carefully what
technical skills they acquire as some are more valuable than others.

Now, if all they wanted was an editor to "pretty up" documents, then sure.
Anybody can do that.

> Note that I'm writing from the standpoint of an employee, not a contractor
> - meaning I already took the job, and got a curve thrown at me sometime
> after starting in that position. I'm not talking about trying to pick up a
> quick contract writing about nuclear reactors armed only with my knowledge
> of Homer Simpson cartoons. I'm talking about being asked to change hats
> unexpectedly, or at least add hats to my wardrobe. It's happened in every
> tech writing job I've had. Is it just me?

Again, if you have some expertise, then you can translate that into other
areas. People who know C++ can translate that technical skill into writing
about Java. Sure, totally different languages, but fundamentally its the same
kind of thing. Programming.

Andrew Plato

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