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Subject:Re: The Tech in Tech Writer From:"elizabeth j allen" <eja -at- samurai -dot- com> To:techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com Date:Tue, 15 Aug 2006 14:02:04 -0400 (EDT)
Keith Hood said:
> I think your main concern should be why the previous
> tech writers couldn't catch on. Were they given a
> chance to familiarize themselves with the subjects and
> communicate effectively with the other personnel?
Two weeks in and I've completed two docs with no problems. All the
reference material is available on a common server: MRDs, PRDs, internal
drafts, and released versions of every technical manual and application
note published by my group. A couple of key people have also made
themselves available to answer any and all technical questions that I have
had: a senior engineer and a senior technical writer. They have been very
generous with me.
For example, we make chips for cell phones. Before I started this job, I
had no idea of what goes on inside those puppies. Over the last two weeks,
by using the resources listed above, I have been able to write a document
that describes in detail a variety of use cases involving our chip,
including an in-depth discussion of camera rotation, display rotation, and
My point is that two weeks ago, I was not an expert on this stuff. But
when I started this job, I was actually *excited* about the opportunity to
learn it. I love learning this stuff! It's *fun* to figure out how cell
phones work, from the inside out. I honestly think it is cool.
It's that excitement, that joy of learning, combined with the capacity to
actually absorb the material, that is critical to being an excellent tech
You can't fake it and you can't manufacture it. Without it, I don't
believe that you can truly excel in this field.
Additionally, I have enough experience with basic electronics and other
technical material (my original university major was astrophysics) to
enable me to grasp the new information.
If you are just starting out in technical writing, it's *so* important to
start cultivating knowledge about how stuff works. Who knew that the HAM
radio operator course I took five years ago would pay off in such a
lucrative way? I didn't--I just took it because I thought it would be fun.
And if you don't think technical stuff is fun, you definitely have no
business being a technical writer, IMO.