Re: Creativity in Technical Communications

Subject: Re: Creativity in Technical Communications
From: Phillip Wilkerson <phillipw -at- ALLENSYSGROUP -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 1997 13:14:24 -0500

As a manager of a tech comm dept., I always look for creativity in
potential employees. Some candidates are a bit surprised, because they've
never thought of tech writing as being creative. I explain the concept like
this: Technical writing is like writing a sonnet.

To qualify as a sonnet, a poem must meet certain standards, have a specific
format, and adhere to the rules of poetic writing. Within the limits of
what constitutes a sonnet, the poet is free to express unlimited

To qualify as technical writing, a document must meet certain industry
standards, have a specific format (i.e., meet certain expectations), and
adhere to the rules (science) of technical writing. Within those limits, a
technical writer is free to express unlimited creativity.

True creativity always requires a practical, working knowledge of the
discipline involved (e.g., writing, painting, music, etc.). Otherwise,
there is no standard for recognizing what is new, fresh, innovative, and

The discipline of technical writing is fraught with creative possibilities
and potential for stretching the boundaries of information development in
new and creative ways. If technical writing has no creative potential, then
tech writing, as both an art and a science, is dead.

Phil Wilkerson
Manager of Technical Communications
Allen Systems Group
pwilkerson -at- allensysgroup -dot- com

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