Re: Poll: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?

Subject: Re: Poll: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?
From: "Susan W Gallagher" <susanwg -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "Tom Johnson" <tomjohnson1492 -at- gmail -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 14:02:10 -0700

Oh. Why didn't you say so? <g>

I'm with Gene - I wouldn't try to convince anyone who had the Great American
Novel in their heart to "sell out" to tech writing. They probably wouldn't
get very far. That said, I'd probably take a far different approach...

1. Any adjective-slinging hack can throw a novel together. <g> (Or marketing
copy, for that matter! <g,d,rlh>) It takes talent and discipline to be an
effective technical writer.

2. I disagree with your analogy. Switching from creative writing to
technical writing is more like switching from painting in oils to creating
an original needlepoint. It forces you to be creative within a set of
constraints, which is much more challenging than the "oil painting"
alternative, truth be told.

3. It's the only career I can think of that gives you the need and the
opportunity to learn something new every day. Not everyone is up to that
kind of a challenge.

You see where I'm going with this? Dare them to be good enough. Some of them
will take you up on it.
-Sue Gallagher

On 8/7/08, Tom Johnson <tomjohnson1492 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> Just to provide a little background on the poll question, why I would ask
> that, etc. -- I was asked by a colleague to give a presentation about
> technical writing to a group of college students. He said most of the
> students are Writing or Literature majors who have aspirations to write
> novels, teach literature, join publishing agencies, become book editors,
> etc. For these students, the thought of becoming a "technical writer" seems
> a bit of a sellout to their original literary aspirations. Rather than
> churning out the great American novel, and thus fulfilling their life's
> purpose, a career in technical writing would lock them into dry procedural
> writing, akin to what they find in their VCR manual. It's like an
> oil-painting artist quitting the canvas and taking up to house painting
> instead.
> Sure, technical writing is something they could do ... if they were
> starving
> and had no other way to pay the bills. So I'm tasked with trying to
> convince
> them otherwise, because the college administration knows that such idealism
> will surely end in poverty and frustration. The college wants to prepare
> them with skills for a career that will give them financial sustainability.
> I blogged about it here: 14 Widespread Myths about Technical
> Writing
> .

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Re: Poll: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?: From: Tom Johnson
Re: Poll: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?: From: Tom Johnson

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