RE: Somewhat OT: Tech Writers vs. other writers

Subject: RE: Somewhat OT: Tech Writers vs. other writers
From: George Mena <George -dot- Mena -at- esstech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 15 May 2003 09:39:37 -0700

Having been a journalist while still in college before I became a technical
writer, I can safely say that some of my colleagues are still at the same
newspaper I started out at back in the 1970s. Like any endeavor, excelling
at writing in general takes a lot of hard work.

Both career tracks do pay the bills, and pay well, especially once you
manage to stick with an outfit like the San Francisco Chronicle or the New
York Times. Let me make my point: pursuing any type of writing career is
always difficult. It's difficult because it's supposed to be. If it were
easy, everyone would be doing it, and doing it for a lot less than what we
earn in this business, especially now.

I found coming into technical writing after having worked as a journalist
gave me a solid foundation in terms of starting a new career. In a newspaper
environment, I had nightly deadlines to meet. I also had to learn how to ask
the right questions in a timely manner, so I could get the information I
needed for a story. Most of all, I had to be as right as I could be every
night precisely because everything happened in real time.

Either way, though, you either know how to write or you don't. If you know
how to write for publication of any kind, you'll succeed in writing, be it
technical writing or covering a shooting war in Iraq.

At least in technical writing, nobody is shooting at you. Investigative
reporters and embedded journalists aren't as lucky.

Hope this helps, or at least informs and/or entertains a bit.

George Mena


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