FW: inter-writer relations

Subject: FW: inter-writer relations
From: Sonja Draeger <sdraeger -at- NORMAN -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 1997 10:06:32 +1100

Someone (sorry, forgot who) said
>Several posts in the last few days have basically said that journalism is
>appplicable experience for technical writing. But the two are not the same
>thing, and writing is only a part of what a tech writer does.

Then Chris said
>Let's see here, as I am a newspaper columnist AND a technical writer:

Tech Writing Newspaper
------------ ---------
Research Research
Interview Interview
Write Write
Re-write Re-write
Spell check Spell check
Editorial review Editorial review
==========

As for me, I've been a Technical Writer for eight years. This year I decided to stir some creative juices and enrolled in a non-fiction course. (Not quite ready for fiction yet.) Yes, what Chris says it true about the process of writing being the same, but I've found the mindset change is the hardest thing to learn.

Most of my assignments have focussed on writing profiles, and they have not been easy. At first I was very dissapointed with myself because I *knew* I could write. Then, as I learnt more, I realised that interviewing a software engineer is quite different from interviewing, say, an immigrant from Ukraine. To write a clear product description is one thing, but to convey the emotional experiences of a person's life is another. Knowing what to ask the s/w guys is easy. Knowing what to ask Stas was hard. How far should I push my questions about Chernobyl? (sp?) Should I ask about the radiation tests he underwent, or what life was like in the army? What spin-off questions should I throw in based on some of his previous answers?

For an experienced journalist these thoughts probably pose no issues at all--and I think the key word here is 'experienced'. I'm getting much better at writing profiles now, but it's taken a year of workshopping to get there. I'm not as much of a 'natural' as I thought I was, though no doubt some people can do both on instinct.

Just another angle.
Sonja

Posts: mailto:techwr-l -at- listserv -dot- okstate -dot- edu
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