Subject: Re: EGOS
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- oddpost -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 09:17:01 -0800 (PST)


While I agree fully with all you have said on the subject, I would add that a frequent problem is that "everyone thinks he's a writer"--what we do seems so much less exacting than coding (for example) that it appears simple in contrast.

I would agree that it *is* simpler than programming for the most part...but not so much simpler as many would assume. Of course, the degree of difficulty always depends upon the level of talent and underlying technical knowledge.

In addition, some writers tend to make things appear easier than they are. When I was at Nortel, for example, several people in the department always seemed to be horribly busy--yet their output was small and of indifferent quality. Two of us, both contractors, seemed to many to be much less harried. However, we also turned out more work than the five others in the group, and of such quality that we were tasked to mentor the others.

I say this not to brag, but to comment upon the wide range of abilities and experience among those who refer to themselves as "tech writers." Since there is no objective standard that is widely accepted, it is often only on the job that any individual's abilities can be determined. Of course, with distressing frequency we find managers and work conditions that are not conducive to producing quality results despite the abilities of the individual tech writers.

As for "defining ourselves"--while as I said I agree this is important, in many cases we must ask the question "If we don't do it, who will?" In other words, many tasks we are called upon to do seem to require far less talent and experience than we (should) bring to a given situation. For instance, many tech writers chafe at being asked to take notes of developers' meetings. However, what they may not be crediting is the ability of the one who keeps the minutes to do much to define the scope of the project. In fact, I have found it is often a very good practice when being in *any* meeting on the job to send a memo to the meeting participants afterward detailing the information presented and the decisions reached in that meeting. Often enough, this is a "CYA" step that can save a great deal of misunderstanding and disgruntlement later. (By the way--I've often seen people "disgruntled," but darn if I've ever seen anyone who might admit to having been "gruntled!").




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Re: EGOS: From: Diane Boos

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