RE: What about Technical Writer vs Communicator?

Subject: RE: What about Technical Writer vs Communicator?
From: Gause_Brian -at- emc -dot- com
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 16:38:58 -0400

I can't believe I'm still seeing these messages.

Now we're seeing arguments about Technical Writing vs. Business Writing?

All writing is distinct, at least by some small measure that any writer
could define, if given enough time. To create a distinction and imply
that Tech Writers can't be Business Writers (or vice versa) is
counterproductive. Writing is writing. Some may argue that Business
Writing and Technical Writing are different, but I can pull apart any
distinctions you care to define (including that nonsense about risk or
audience-identity). It's all intended to communicate, pursuade and
profit, whether it's the right option for your business or the correct
procedure to install your new software...both Business Writing and
Technical Writing fall into a subset of writing someone might describe
as "Corporate-Profit-Based-Communication".

For anyone who thinks risks are lower for technical documentation than
for business documentation, I would recommend a few months documenting
an API or an SDK. In some technical documents, if even a single letter
is wrong (in a code sample, say), then the meaning is entirely lost. If
the method call is misnamed, the user may never get the code sample to
work. That's 100% failure, and to say that the correct answer can be
trained or re-written is simply a mistake.

I am a Technical Writer. I use "Writer" instead of "communicator"
because a communicator could be a speaker, a teacher or even a
well-educated mime. You see, the word "communicator" doesn't actually
communicate that I write or that the result of my efforts is a written
document. A communicator doesn't necessarily write, but a writer
necessarily communicates.

Writing is writing. I've written many hardware and software manuals in
the last 15 years, but I have also written novels, poems, screenplays,
short stories, essays, recipes, e-mails, political arguments and even a
few naga-uta. All of it takes research, because research is a part of
writing. I can document any product or detail any concept for any
audience. And this is what I say in interviews.

You may want to build artificial distinctions between Tech Writers and
Business Writers, but it's all writing, and to argue for such
distinctions just makes it harder for the rest of us to switch jobs
across the wide range of writing fields. It's exactly this attitude that
makes it so difficult to switch from say, software documentation to
biotech. Attitudes like this become institutionalized, and harden over
time in the minds of pointy-haired bosses. Then we get pidgeonholed as
"business writers" or "biotech writers" or "technical writers" forced to
explain that, no, it's not really that different, and yes, I can
document your product.

Always be wary of people who believe they have specialized knowledge you
can't or don't have...they are trying to define the rules you live by.

Brian Gause

Technical Writer



-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+gause_brian=emc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+gause_brian=emc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Hemstreet, Deborah
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 12:18 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: What about Technical Writer vs Communicator?

Gene Kim-Eng wrote:
"Most US managers tend to associate "communications" with
"Corporate Communications," the department that
generates press releases and all those weasely "Don't Panic!" messages
...."

=================
Well, as a "technical" "writer" I also care about the terminology. I am
one of those people who really don't care what most people think - if
the word is wrong, I won't use it. And if the person who is hiring me
has an incorrect perception of what I do, I try to educate them.

The real problem, I think, is that we are so worried about our jobs and
trying to defend what we do, that we don't do very much educating of
others as to what we do.

I too, have been introduced as a technical writer, but I usually try to
correct the person (gently) and let them know that I do a lot more.
Perhaps I am a stubborn idealist. I looked for a lot of jobs before I
landed this one. I also didn't get hired for positions I was more than
qualified to perform.

As I look back, I probably could have softened my approach and dumbed
myself down. I could have been less idealistic and NOT told the
marketing person that its hard to get motivated to write about a game
that is going to waste people's time and money. I communicated well and
did NOT get the job.

<grin>

But when I was interviewed for this job, I saw that they needed far more
than a "writer" and sold myself as a technical communicator to meet
their needs. My current job title is "writer" because the HR department
does not know how to handle new titles... I don't care. The people I am
working for know and recognize what I do...

Something I would like to see STC do - is to have a more concerted
effort to EDUCATE the public and businesses as to the breadth and depth
of our profession. Get people used to hearing we are COMMUNICATORS...

I won't try to fight the whole world, but I will fight to keep my
standards high where I am...

Writer, to me, just does not say it all...


Deborah





^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats
or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007

Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.
http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com

---
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as gause_brian -at- emc -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit
http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/gause_brian%40emc.com


To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwr-l.com/ for more resources and info.


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.
http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity! http://www.helpandmanual.com

---
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/archive%40web.techwr-l.com


To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwr-l.com/ for more resources and info.


Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: What about Technical Writer vs Communicator?: From: Hemstreet, Deborah

Previous by Author: Re: old school
Next by Author: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken
Previous by Thread: Re: What about Technical Writer vs Communicator?
Next by Thread: Re: What about Technical Writer vs Communicator?


What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads


Sponsored Ads