Re: I want to be a tech writer

Subject: Re: I want to be a tech writer
From: Bonni Graham <bonnig -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 1995 10:34:18 -0700

Dave demyan makes a number of good points (although I don't think Gwen
was being as negative as he paints her being and I CERTAINLY don't
think she was being discouraging), but in the spirit of encouraging
beginning tech writers, I feel I need to correct one of his statements:

><snip> We all know the
>basics: Good BA/BS, data processing or other technical specialty,
>MA in technical writing or composition, and forget the PhD for now.
^^

These are not necessarily "the basics". A good BA/BS will help, but,
depending on the comapny you want to work for, and the area of TW you
want to go into, it doesn't necessarily need to be in a technical
specialty. My BA is in Literature/Writing, from UCSD (The Few, The
Proud, The UCSD Writing Majors!). I've been able to pick up all the
technical information I need to do my job (software documentation) well
by:

a) having lots of friends who are programmers
b) treating the technical staff like worthwhile human beings (who have
the same thrill for math or technical subjects that I have for
words)

In addition, one of the best technical writers I know has, gasp, NO
DEGREE AT ALL! She continues to be gainfully employed for more than
adequate compensation.

I have no MA. If I had read that an MA was a basic requirement of
becoming a technical writer, THAT would have discouraged me far more
than being told that there was no magic bullet that would make me a
great writer. After six years of undergraduate work, working an
*additional* fifty to sixty hours a week to support myself, being told
I had to face ANOTHER several years to get ANOTHER degree so I could
start out in my profession would simply have been too much. Now, if I
had not had to support myself and pay tuition/books/parking (i.e., if
someone else footed the bill), I might have gone for it.

I'll probably go BACK and get an MA at some point (bravo to the poster
who is doing so!), but I didn't need one to start out.

If you have an interest in the branch of technology for which you want
to write, and (in this day and age) a BA in writing OR a technical
specialty, and can demonstrate strong writing skills, you're ready to
go.

Bonni Graham
Manual Labour


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