RE: Somewhat OT: Tech Writers vs. other writers

Subject: RE: Somewhat OT: Tech Writers vs. other writers
From: Kim Roper <kim -dot- roper -at- pixelink -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 16 May 2003 16:18:00 -0400

Kevin postulated:

> I think the situation is much like that in music and comedy
> and visual/plastic arts (painting, sculpture...).
> There are lots of reasonably talented people in music and in
> comedy, making little or nothing, because mass media bring us
> the really top-of-the-line (whatever that means in their
> respective niche), so we are unwilling to pay for performances
> (live or recorded) from relatively ordinary folk when the
> superlative performances are constantly available for comparison.
> Technical writing, on the other hand values writing ability and
> facility up to a point, but as we love to belabor, the "profession"
> and those who hire us value other capabilities and talents as much
> or more -- technical aptitude, curiosity and willingness to dig
> into things and ask questions, attention to detail, etc.

Another thing to consider is that with the heavily "artistic" forms of
writing (fiction, poetry, that kind of thing), the written material is the
end product, created and purchased for its own sake. The writer is the
producer of the end product. Artistic expression is the significant driving
force, thus the performance benchmarks are often in the hands of the writer.
Generally, it is more producer-driven.

Typically in technical communication, the documentation is an accessory
needed to promote or use an end product. We either work for the people that
produce the end products or we create documentation for the end users to
help them use third-party end products. Either way, we're filling a market
demand for information, which is the big driving force, and the performance
benchmarks are heavily influenced by industry. That is, it's more

Hmm. Makes sense to me as to which one is more likely to provide enough
cash to pay the bills, as long as one is willing to respect that the market
is calling the tune ... just as it does for most other occupations.

Cheers ... Kim
kim.roper at


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