RE: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing

Subject: RE: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing
From: "Cardimon, Craig" <ccardimon -at- M-S-G -dot- com>
To: 'Bill Swallow' <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>, 'Keith Hood' <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 15:36:27 +0000

We are chameleons of the working world in that we adapt to our surroundings.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+ccardimon=m-s-g -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Bill Swallow
Sent: vendredi 20 janvier 2012 10:28
To: Keith Hood
Cc: Anonymous; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing

I disagree. I think a technical writer needs to be exactly what is needed for the products, industry, and community they are supporting with information. In some cases it may make sense for them to be a generalist. In other cases it may make sense for them to be so skilled as to be able to make the products or perform the work they are supporting but instead are aimed at providing quality information.

A tech writer who documents toasters can't be lumped into one who documents software, or SDKs, or power plants, or chemical filtration equipment.

Jumping from one company to another is not a valid excuse for promoting a generalist approach to the profession. It's just one perspective of the types of work we perform. Many people don't choose tech writing because they like to write procedures. Many have an interest in a particular industry or subject matter, and align themselves with that interest in the role of writer.

We often talk about tech writing like it's a be-all, end-all profession on its own. It's not, and I hate to burst that professional bubble but it's true. Technical writing is a role, a discipline, that spans many industries in varying ways. Two people could build a lifetime of experience in technical writing and have very little overlap of experience. It may start and end with tools use and basic types of information produced (procedural, reference, etc.). A tech writer within the chemical engineering world likely has a very different work day than one in the ecommerce world. And while the ecommerce writer can build a career on being company-agile and get by with the ability to learn new things quickly, one within a chemical engineering world likely won't get by without full immersion into the field, in depth research into the subject matter, and likely detailed proprietary knowledge about how their employer goes about their facet of the industry, and therefore would be a more long-term employee.

It's all relative. A tech writer needs to be what the role they're filling needs them to be.

On Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 10:55 PM, Keith Hood <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:
> I think a technical writer needs to be more of a generalist, especially in positions where you're writing documents for regular users and not engineers or designers. If you start becoming a specialist when you're still writing for a general audience, you start to lose touch with the user-level concerns that affect what you include and how you write it. I think what a technical writer needs most of all when it comes to learning technology is the ability to learn new things quickly.  After all, we are likely to have to jump from one company to another, one contract to another, one project to another, as you wrote of about working six roles.  Get too specialized, and it gets too hard to do a brain dump and clear learning capacity for the new stuff.


--
Bill Swallow

Twitter: @techcommdood
Blog: http://techcommdood.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/techcommdood
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing: From: INKtopia Admin
Re: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing: From: Lauren
Re: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing: From: Anonymous
Re: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing: From: Keith Hood
Re: Anonymous: Burnout, advancement and career changing: From: Bill Swallow

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