Re: Tech Writing as a career

Subject: Re: Tech Writing as a career
From: sam stuhlman <stuhlman -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 22 Oct 1994 12:23:02 -0700

On Fri, 21 Oct 1994, James E Driggers wrote:

> I have a bunch of questions to ask those who do technical writing as a
> career. I am thinking about becoming a technical writer, and would like

> a. What do you do over the course of a day as a writer?
I'm a freelancer, so I spend my day working on a project, martketing,
shmoozing with potential clients, chasing techinical weenies, meeting
with editors, programmers, etc. I do a lot of "keeping up" with people
to make sure I don't have much time between projects.

> b. How did you get your first job as a writer?

I was a newspaper copy editor and got a job editing manuals for AT&T. I
got the interview through my mother-in-law's dentist's wife. (It's TRUE.
That's why you should tell everyone you know you're looking for a job.)

> c.
What kind of skills did you
have starting out?

Editing writing interviewing, typing, and ability to talk to ANYONE and
seem interested.

> d. What kind of skills are needed now starting out?

The same. Plus some tool and PC skills would help. I've been doing this
since we used to write in longhand and hove the typing pool type.
> e. What's best/worst part of being a writer?

I make enough $ to supoprt my family. I really don't love my work. I hate
some of the crap work I have to do, because I'm the contractor on the
project. I enjoy going from company to company.

> f. What advice would you give someone thinking about writing as a career?
Don't be mistaken and think you might actually get to do something new,
interesting and original. Like software, almost every manual is already
written. We just put em together a little differently.

Get a hobby. Find a way to reduce stress. Don't actualize yourself
through your work or you could be unhappy chasing the deadline or
standard that's difficult or impossible to meet. I'm a lot happier than
most of my contemporaries becuase of this.

> g. What kind of advancement opportunities are there as a writer?
Managing, training, consulting. depends on the company

> h. What kind of money can be made at entry level? After 1-3 years?
See the STC salary survey.

> i. With strong writing skills, a BA in sociology and much clerical type
> experience, but next to none in programming, what kind of chance do I
> have getting a job as a tech writer?

Can't tell you. I don't usually come in contact with entry level writers.

> Please answer what questions you will and a heartfelt thanks for your time.

No sweat. email me privately, if you have more questions.

> Jim Driggers

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