Re: New slant: professionalism (long)

Subject: Re: New slant: professionalism (long)
From: John Posada <john -at- TDANDW -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 15:05:10 -0400

Elna...

A professional technical writer isn't a professional because he/she can
do something well (such as create documentation from scratch). They are
professional because they can do what the client/situation REQUIRE and
can do it well.

I'm the only technical writer in my company and most of the time, I DO
end up receiving material by having "SME's do it first, then they edit
and format."

However, at the same time, I may be involved in the following projects:
- rewriting an existing instruction manual for Marketing.
- reformting and polishing abourt 75 existing 3-5 page instruction
document-lets written by programmers.
- creating documentation by reading and incorporating existing UNIX
program Release Notes and the accompanying .cfg files, then writing new
information around them.
- sitting down with a programmer and documenting a small utility by
watching, taking notes, submitting drafts, and running trial runs.
- writing a very detailed, 250 page document on running the company's
billing system from scratch.

Does the time I'm wring from scratch make me be a better writer or the
time I'm reformting make me a lesser writer?

We keep falling into the trap that "how we do it" becomes the criteria
of quality, not how much we satisfy the user. Soon, it will deteriorate
into what we do it with (I do it in Frame, so I'm more professional than
you because you use Word and everyone knows that Frame is more
professional than Word, so I must be more professional...right?)

Would I be a better writer if I received material from the programer,
but threw it away and insisted on writing it from scratch on my own?

Let's keep our eye on the task and audience, not the process of getting
there.



>
> There are a lot of people who call themselves technical writers who have
> taken the easy way out, and believe that the only proper way to do
> technical writing is to have SME's do it first, then they edit and
> format. That's not the way I operate, and it's not how my company
> operates. However, in almost every new contract situation I'm up against
--
John Posada, Technical Writer (and proud of the title)
The world's premier Internet fax service company: The FaxSav Global
Network
-work http://www.faxsav.com -personal http://www.tdandw.com
-work mailto:posada -at- faxsav -dot- com -personal mailto:john -at- tdandw -dot- com
-work phone: 908-906-2000 X2296 -home phone: 732-291-7811
My opinions are mine, and neither you nor my company can take credit for
them.




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