Re: If you are not a tech writer...

Subject: Re: If you are not a tech writer...
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 6 May 1993 09:17:39 -0500

Peter Montgomery discusses my characterization of technical writing:

> LO>You (and I mean 'you') make the point that one need not be paid to write
> LO>in order to be a professional writer. I think we may each be speaking
> LO>from different cultural contexts.
> In my context, a professional is one who works to a standard, as opposed
> to an amateur who does it for fun, good or bad. Obviously most professionals
> get paid for their work, but being paid for it is not at the essence of
> being a professional.

The term "professional" has several different meanings. The two we are
discussing here are each valid, given the proper context. Others on the
list have checked in with their opinions.


> Thus,
> the teachers don't want a conceptually oriented writing course for them.
> We don't have a program to train writers for the documentation that is
> needed in those areas, but I suspect that is what we would call a
> technical writing program.

If I understand you, there is no formal program to teach technical
writing, or any other kind of writing, as an end in itself where you
are. Rather, your institution provides coursework in writing as
graduates in each field must practically use it on the job. Since this
discussion was initially about how to describe writing like that, I
agree with you, as I did before, that technical writing may not be the
right term. I'll stand by my characterization of what *I* think of as
technical writing, and repeat that most other non-fiction writing would
improve if held to any subset of those standards.

> LO> My point is that any of
> LO> these qualities improves most writing, but that all of these qualities
> LO> usually distinguish good technical writing.
> This is unfair to a whole lot of writers in academic fields, because
> for them such qualities distinguish good academic writing, just as the
> subjectiveness you are wary of, is considered a weakness in much
> academic writing.

Respectfully, I disagree. Academic writing *is* technical writing. Our
discussion of other forms of writing, to which my quoted text applies,
was not about academic writing, but rather what you characterized as
"professional writing" or "career writing". Again, if academic writing
exhibits *all* of the qualities I mentioned, *I* think it is good
academic writing, *as well as* good technical writing. If academic
writers think this is unfair, my sincerest apologies to each one who
> *************************************************************
> * Peter Montgomery Montgomery -at- camosun -dot- bc -dot- ca *

|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer |"Don't say yes until I finish |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| talking." - Darryl Zanuck |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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