RE: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?

Subject: RE: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?
From: Technical Writer <tekwrytr -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008 08:32:34 -0400

Labeling--as Korzybski pointed out--is not always rational behavior. It may be comforting to define your work as TW, BA, or some other category, but it is not always wise to do so.

"Technology" is a big field. Many programmers discovered TW after the bust as a nice filler between programming gigs. However, a lot of "new" TWs understand that programming and TW have a lot in common; writing clear instructions to humans is not fundamentally different than writing clear instructions to a computer.

The old days of English and journalism majors dominating the field are fading rapidly. In the part of the country I work, vendor certification in Java, Oracle, or Unix is considered a sign of someone interested in technology, interested in furthering his or her job skills, and capable of discussing topics with SMEs as equals. All VERY big pluses. Similar situations exist in non-computer fields such as biotech, medical, insurance, finance, etc. Knowledge in the field you are working in is considered mandatory.

The myth of "we need not worry our pretty little heads about this, because we are user advocates, not SMEs, and the typical user is not too bright" is--thankfully--diminishing. That is, while skill in reducing complexity to manageable chunks is still as useful as ever, more TWs seem to be writing for increasingly technical audiences. Subject matter expertise is becoming as necessary for a TW as for a SME.

The BA field (if one can actually be found) is based on the disconnect between business and IT; the business people lack technical skills and the IT people are clueless about business. If your TW position happens to be labeled BA, the more business skills you acquire (up to and including an MBA, if you feel so inclined), the better prepared you will be to excel at your job. That is fundamentally different than being a wannabe MBA or programmer or whatever; it is adding extra dimensions of competency to your skill set.
tekwrytr - Contract business analysis and solutions development in Visual Basic .NET, ASP .NET, SQL Server, and XML. Specializing in cost-effective rapid application development (RAD), prototyping, and service-oriented architecture (SOA) IT solutions for SMBs.
Get ideas on sharing photos from people like you. Find new ways to share.

ComponentOne Doc-To-Help gives you everything you need to author and
publish quality Help, Web, and print content. Perfect for technical
authors, developers, and policy writers. Download a FREE trial.

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

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

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 for more resources and info.


Previous by Author: How did you get started in tech writing?
Next by Author: RE: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?
Previous by Thread: RE: Does TechSmith offer a SnagIt forum?
Next by Thread: RE: Is technical writing a sellout or fallback career?

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

Sponsored Ads