You're SUPPOSED to have good communication skills if you're a tech writer

Subject: You're SUPPOSED to have good communication skills if you're a tech writer
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 19:02:03 -0700 (PDT)

"Michael West" wrote...

> If *anything* should be obvious to an attentive reader
> of this list, it is that writing well -- clearly, precisely,
> concisely -- is not something that many people do
> most of the time, even among those who claim
> professional qualifications in the field.

Sooooo...what does that mean. Tech writers should stop learning about
technology so they can spend time worried about what they should already know?


If a doctor comes in the examination room and proudly proclaims "I have a lot
of training with medicine!" as if that was some accomplishment, I'd get up and
walk away from him.

However, if I went to see a neurologist and he proudly proclaimed "I have an
exceptional amount of experience with brain tumors!" I might sit and listen to
him (especially since this thread is giving me a brain tumor.)


A doctor can't even get out of med school without being exceptionally skilled
with medicine. Only after med school (or in the latter years) does a doctor
specialize in something where he can start selling him/herself as an expert.

How then is writing any different. A writer who proudly proclaims he/she is a
good writer is like a doctor saying he understands medicine. YOU"RE SUPPOSED TO

There is not prestigious, amazing, or even praiseworthy of a writer proudly
proclaiming he/she can write. In fact, I am a little suspicious of writers who
are amazed with their writing skills.

So Michael, I realize you (and others) are very proud of your communication
skills and want to put them out front and the A-number-1 skill employers should
consider. But writing skill is not what differentiates one writer from the
next. We're ALL writers and we ALL (presumably) have good communication skills.
What makes you a GOOD writer is what you lump on top of those communication
skills...namely technology skills and critical analysis skills.

And I would say, a writer with bad communication skills, isn't a writer. And a
technical writer without technical skills, isn't a technical writer.

Now, get back to work, you!

Andrew Plato

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