Re: Just can't help myself

Subject: Re: Just can't help myself
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2005 10:48:23 -0700


Bill Swallow wrote:


The best way to become a better tech comm is to WRITE. Write
constantly. Write everything you can. Review it. Write some more.
Learn from other writers. Find other assignments to write about.
Lather, rinse, repeat.


I disagree. Writing is the very minor, mechanical portion of what we
do. The best way to be a better tech writer is to become
industry-savvy (that is, the industry in which you're working as a
writer), more business-savvy (learn what the movers and the shakers
are really looking for in your contribution and leveraging that to
also better the user community you support), and be as
analytically-minded as possible when solving problems with words.

I'd second that. However, I'd make the slight qualification that you don't necessarily need industry-specific information when you go job-hunting -- although, let's face it, that always helps.

Often, though, it can be almost as useful to have a track record of showing a willingness to come to grips with technical subjects. Just as programmers can sometimes get a job without knowing a specific language because they already know several and learning another is trivial for them, so technical writers can sometimes get a job because they already have one or more areas of technical expertise and can easily learn another. In both cases, of course, whether they can depends on whether the person hiring actually knows the job or is simply an HR person checking off a list of requirements.

This is an advantage that technical writers who insist that their expertise is writing or tools can't use. I can understand the temptation to claim a unique area of exertise, but often these two are actively harmful to technical writers.

--
Bruce Byfield 604-421-7177
http://members.axion.net/~bbyfield

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References:
RE: Just can't help myself: From: John Posada
Re: Just can't help myself: From: Bill Swallow
Re: Just can't help myself: From: Martin Bosworth
Re: Just can't help myself: From: Bill Swallow

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