Re: What tech writers "do"

Subject: Re: What tech writers "do"
From: "Brian Gilbert" <BGILBER -at- transunion -dot- com>
To: "Melissa Nelson" <melmis36 -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2006 15:59:20 -0600


I like to think of it as explaining to medical students what doctors
do. The generic reply would be that doctors "heal people." The specifics
would be "heal people and earn lots of money :)"

You can let them know that there are generalists and specialists. The
specialists may get into creating training documents or CBTs, usability
testing, technical specifications, hardware/software user guides, online
help, Web interface design and development, process documents, marketing
materials, etc. Generalists may do a little bit of everything depending
on the company/companies where they work.

What's important as a technical writer is being able to understand your
audience, what information they need, how best to communicate that
information, and, of course, actually implementing that communication,
i.e., writing.

I've also found it to be important to be flexible and be willing to
learn (new tools, new industries, new specialties). I started out
writing user guides, shifted to creating online help, moved to Web
design, then created CBTs and tutorials, finally to managing a team that
creates CBTs, tutorials, and online help.

Along with the flexibility goes tool's important to
understand how to use various tools, but expect to have to learn new
ones every couple of years (or every 6 months depending on the industry
you are in).


>>> "Melissa Nelson" melmis36 -at- hotmail -dot- com> 11/8/2006 3:28:08 PM >>
I will representing Michigan Tech and technical writers in general
at the
National College Fair next week in Baltimore. I was hoping to put
together a
list of what tech writers do, so that when I am asked that question,
I can
give some interesting answers, and not just the generic "write
manuals and
stuff" reply.

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