Real World Of The Tech Writer (was: Student Tech Writer being edited...)

Subject: Real World Of The Tech Writer (was: Student Tech Writer being edited...)
From: Blair John <Blair -dot- John -dot- MM5 -at- MACMAIL1 -dot- NB -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 1995 11:38:21 -0800

Betsy Maaks wrote:

> I believe that the real world of the tech writer is this:

> (1) our skills are writing clearly, sequentially, logically, technically
> accurately, to a given audience.
> (2) we have very good interviewing and researching skills which we use to
> gather necessary information for the topic
> (3) we work well with all types of people

> The last one is the hardest, because a number of egotistical people think
> they have all the skills needed to write well. As tech writers, we must
> convince them that:

> (1) we have the above skills, and received jobs, promotions, recognition,
> etc. from others who acknowledge these skills in us.
> (2) we don't claim to be knowledgeable in all fields of technical expertise;
> we leave that to guys this this "person" (I sometimes tell them, "you be the
> expert in content, I'll be the expert is writing and audience analysis")
> (3) sometimes some audience analysis (factual information) that we have
> researched helps "these people" to accept that this is an area that WE know
> better and that this is OUR job
> (4) to repeat and clarify part of #2 above, SMEs are the content experts and
> WE are the writing experts. I have told SME/reviewers that they can make
> corrections to the content, but not to the writing. Like if they change
> active voice to passive voice (for no clarity of content, "jus' coz"), I
> won't agree to the change.

Betsy's made some good points. Just to add to this clarification and
validation of our occupation, allow me to share something I have conspicuously
posted on my office wall (with thanks and a tip of the hat to the original

"A Technical Writer in the computer industry writes books that teach how to
plan for, install, implement, use, maintain, alter, or deinstall one of the
most complex tools ever invented."

john blair
john -dot- blair -at- nb -dot- rockwell -dot- com

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