Re: Background

Subject: Re: Background
From: MONETTE DENISE P 678-3843 MACA <dmonette -at- ARL -dot- MIL>
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 1994 12:05:10 -0700

This isn't in response only to the following messages but to most of the
messages on this thread. I get the impression that most of you folks
have the impression that technical writers all write computer
and/or software documentation.

I have had three technical writing jobs and have been very successful at
all three. Until recently the only thing I knew about a computer was how
to turn it on and operate the programs I was working in. I have taken it
upon myself to start learning more about computers, but I did this out of
curiosity on my own part. I haven't had any job-related *need* to do so.

I do agree with the majority in that technical writers greatly benefit
from being able to quickly learn new material. In the three jobs that I
have had the tasks and subjects have changed each time. I have had to
learn new subject matter, terminology, and style guides each time.

I think that the basic skills of our profession are writing and grammar.
The subject matter has to be relearned for each new job. It is a good
idea to have a broad base in science or technology of some type to get a
job doing the type of writing you like, but I am living proof that it
doesn't *have* to be in computers (I have a broad science background and
am currently editing scientific and engineering reports and user manuals
for software developed on site.)

* Denise Monette Technical Writer/Editor dmonette -at- arl -dot- mil*
* 4773 Sunflower Pl. White Sands Missile Range w-(505) 678-0697*
* Las Cruces, NM 88005 h-(505) 528-8168*

On Thu, 3 Nov 1994, Rose Wilcox wrote:

> Rick Lippincott wrote:
> What I think Nancy is saying is that you need smart people. They'll
> learn.
> You can't avoid a learning curve, but you can pick the people who will
> best
> be able to handle that curve.

> I agree, but it's not just intelligence that is required. I've met
> some very intelligent writers who were techno-phobic (at
> worst) or just didn't like technology. A zest for learning new
> subjects and a resume that demonstrates that can be a
> good indicator too. Especially if the subjects learned are
> technical rather than verbal. A person with a strong ability
> to learn foreign languages is obviously quite intelligent.
> But if they hate learning new software, they won't make a
> great technical writer (although they could become
> competent in a long-term position in which the tools don't
> change much).

> Rosie Wilcox
> Roving Tech. Writer
> rwilc -at- fast -dot- dot -dot- state -dot- az -dot- us
> ncrowe -at- primenet -dot- com

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