Re: Just can't help myself

Subject: Re: Just can't help myself
From: Martin Bosworth <martinhbosworth -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 2005 15:12:06 -0400

> Not exactly. First, tools are irrelevent. If you become entrenched in
> a tool, you're going to have trouble down the road whether you job hop
> or stay on a job solid for years on end. Tools come and go over time.

That, I think, we agree upon. That's why I worry about the idea of
overspecializing what tech writers do. I should, if I am good at my
job, be able to accomplish the stated ends whether I have a certain
tool or not. Of course, if the job requires that tool and I don't have
it, then it's another matter. :)

> I think you're also looking at too granular a level. If you know one
> data flow cold, you should be able to pick up any data flow. If you
> can't, then it's evidence that your experience is founded in rote
> mechanics and not in understanding of data flow.

If I told you that I don't even think in terms of data flows, would
that make me less of a tech writer? :) Would you demand I take
certification to prove my identity? :)

>Variety can hurt your professional development, and it can
> help it. It comes down to what you focus on in your work, and how you
> can leverage it. I've chosen to specialize in the software industry. I
> know software, I like software, and I thus have no desire to go over
> to mechanical engineering or hardware or another industry (well,
> except for maybe ReQuest... cool audio components!).

This is true. I was able to land this job because I've had a variety
of different experiences--programming, web development, and freelance
writing--that all came together in a good mix. I haven't found a
particular "niche" or area of documentation that I prefer as of yet.

> I'm not advocating certification as a means of better jobs. The jobs
> are what you choose to take and what you choose to do with them once
> you take them. Certification in my mind means more standards and best
> practices for how we go about our work, which may lead to being
> favored as a candidate, but isn't a guarantee.

There you go. If there are no guarantees, then why create standards if
the end result can't be adequately proven? It's called
"certification", not "possibilification", or "maybefication". :)

> Our purpose is to write, of course. But writing is a minor part of
> what I do. In an average week, I think I spend about 10% of my time
> writing.
> > I already am learning and doing tons more than I ever expected to as
> > it is, and I love it, but it all stems from my ability to write. If I
> > suddenly found myself unable to do that one day, I'd be unable to
> > work.
> Well, that's another topic altogether. But, I can honestly say that if
> I was asked to stop writing for the rest of my life right now, I could
> probably still find good-paying work that I enjoy doing, and probably
> rather quickly at that.
> Nearly every skill that goes into writing can be applied to another
> role. That is, if you don't focus on minutia or tools as your sole
> expertise. ;-)

Ah, but would you be passionate about it? Would you enjoy it? Would it
give you a reason to get up in the morning beyond paying the bills? :)

That's what writing is to me. I can do a lot of other things--and some
quite well--but writing is what I love.

> Correct, thus the reason for my comment regarding your comparrison.

I'll give you that. ;)


Martin H. Bosworth
Technical Writer, Telemedicine Directorate
Walter Reed Army Medical Center (
Writer/Editor, (


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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
Re: Just can't help myself: From: Martin Bosworth
Re: Just can't help myself: From: Bill Swallow

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