Re: The Right Stuff

Subject: Re: The Right Stuff
From: DIGEST Bruce Byfield <byfield -at- DIRECT -dot- CA>
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 1996 15:03:19 +0800

Michael Burris <mburris -at- LYNX -dot- DAC -dot- NEU -dot- EDU> writes:

>I'm a writer. I'm not a Technical Writer, but more along the lines
>of magazine and fiction writer. Question: Can the previously mentioned
>function in a world of the Technical Writer as long as he/she has the
>correct training? Is the creative individual facing self-destruction?
>A nervous breakdown? Perhaps total humiliation?

I've heard it both ways. For some people, writing of any sort stimulates
more writing of every kind. For others, writing in one way makes it hard
to write in another.

From my own somewhat limited experience, I'd suggest that technical
writing shouldn't interfer with non-fiction, but sometimes interfers with

> have spoken to a Technical Writer some months ago, and sensed that
>one should be " mechanically inclined " in some way. Would the rest
>of you agree?

Again, opinions on this subject are going to vary. Obviously, a technophobe
shouldn't try technical writing, but complete expertise isn't needed, either (a
fact which it's hard to convince engineers and programmers of). It depends,
naturally, on what the product is.

For example, a software package is often easy to document because the writer
can play around with it. By contrast, a hardware or OS component may be
harder to document without expert knowledge because the writer may be
unable to see it in operation.

In other words, my reply is a resounding, "It depends!"

Bruce Byfield (byfield -at- direct -dot- ca) Technical Writing
Burnaby, BC, Canada Computing & Training Manuals
(604) 421-7189 On-Line & Paper Documentation

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