Re: Writing is an innate talent

Subject: Re: Writing is an innate talent
From: Tamara Peters <1455 -at- MN2 -dot- LAWSON -dot- LAWSON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 May 1995 15:45:00 CDT

Ed makes a really good point. As one of the posters who got a few
non-engineer Techwhirlers going on this subject, I guess I should qualify my
statements. I have had to update far too many manuals done by people who
thought they didn't need to know (or didn't have time to explore) the
subject matter very deeply. When I reconsider those experiences, the messes
were usually created by individuals I wouldn't have put in the top 20% of an
engineering group OR a writing group.

I know from my own limited experience that with a solid working knowledge of
engineering disciplines, programming languages and basic machine
architecture, and other assorted areas, I have been able to produce doco of
a higher quality than if I did not understand these areas. How do I define
higher quality? By talking to my clients (internal as well as external)!
I've got letters and reviews to back that one up.

Of COURSE there are marvelous writers out there who don't have formal
training in programming or electrical wiring. But I'll bet that, if the
truth were known, those really good writers have picked up quite a few of
the principles in their subject areas along the way. I'll bet they
understand the products they write about at a level beyond "what you see on
the screen."

Tamara Peters

tamara -dot- peters -at- lawson -dot- com

To: Multiple recipients of list TECHWR-L
Subject: Re: Writing is an innate talent
Date: Friday, 5 May, 1995 1:04PM

Yes, I think you've pinpointed the different assumptions that underlie
our apparent disagreement. This discussion started in connection with
whether engineers could learn to write; one of my assumptions was that
this meant "learn to write professionally." Being in the top 20% of all
people who write (business memos, letters to mom, grocery lists, etc.) is
NOT a professional level. Not even close. The people on this list are,
sort of by definition, in the top 5% that you mentioned. Probably a much
smaller percentage. And that kind of success, IMHO, requires talent --
as well as a *lot* of effort.

Ed -dot- Hoornaert -at- Ventana -dot- com
Disclaimer: Ventana Corporation should not be held responsible for my big

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