brush up editing skills -Reply

Subject: brush up editing skills -Reply
From: David Hailey <FAHAILEY -at- WPO -dot- HASS -dot- USU -dot- EDU>
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 09:56:56 -0600

Hi everybody,

I agree with Miki for the reasons she mentioned and for
others. You should be teaching, if you can. Although
there are numerous technical writing programs around, and
this area of education grows faster than we can keep up
with, there are surprisingly few teachers who have actually
worked in the industry. I have been associated with several
colleges and universities that teach technical writing.
They teach to wrong needs, seldom differentiating between
the needs of technical writers and technical professionals
who write; they seldom understand (or teach) the politics of
writing; in short, altogether too often, colleges and
universities use teachers unqualified to be technical
writers to teach technical writing. I can count on one hand
all of the schools to which I would send my son.

Many of you have suffered the humiliation of really screwing
up a client's project--at least I have. Many of you have
managed a publications program, getting up at three in the
morning to sign off on a press sheet coming off on a
graveyard run or racing around a cluttered office looking
for a lost sep (honest, I thought it was already at the
printers). Many of you know the difficulty of researching a
project in an environment of pure chaos where your informers
know little more than you. You are the ones who are really
qualified to teach the next generation of technical writers.
Instead, in many, if not most, cases, students get
comp-rhetoric- teachers-turned-WWW-guru who don't know a
link from a node, but know they don't want to teach 101
anymore.

Of course there are good tech writing teachers out there,
but there aren't nearly enough. If you are in a position
that allows you to teach, by all means do the next
generation of technical writers a favor and help them out.

What does this do for you besides improve your editing
skills? It forces you to synthesize what you are doing.
You begin thinking about the theories behind your actions.
You begin formalizing things you did instinctively,
understanding the natures of your projects at conceptual and
cerebral levels. In other words, not only does your
mechanics get better (and they do), but your understanding
of the profession gets much more tangible.

Besides it's really a lot of fun.

Dave Hailey, who been there and done that then did this too.

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