Satisfaction (was ... Re: The value of technical writers)

Subject: Satisfaction (was ... Re: The value of technical writers)
From: RCURRIER <Rcurrier -at- RAINBOW -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 15:13:43 -0800

Thanks all for your many kind responses to my question of how to reply to a
boss who revealed that her opinion of technical writers is that we are
non-technical drudges who do not continue to grow and advance in our
career. In case you are interested, the majority of the replies took the
"Get out of there fast, and don't let the door hit you on the way out."

However, I was depressed by some of the responses, indicating that not all
technical writers find our profession as challenging and exciting as I do.
is an excerpt from Andrew Plato:

<Your boss is correct in some regards. Many writers are
<writers because they aspire no further. Half the writers I
<meet are writers only because they want to pay the bills
<and cannot get a job doing anything else. This might not be
<the case for yourself, but it is for a lot of writers out
<there (in my experience.

I have always loved words and language. I started as a programmer in 1976,
found that I had much more fun writing the user manual for the program I
created than doing the coding. I've been doing technical writing ever since.

Writing is what I WANT to do. I find it challenging and fun and much more
than the sort of programming I used to do.

Andrew also said:

<Tech writing has not changed much in the past 10 years. Get mad an
<curse my name, but apart from a few new tools, on-line help, and some
<interactive medias - by and large technical writing is pretty much
<the same as it was 10 years ago.

Sheesh! Well, let me tell you, it's changed a heck of lot in the past 20
Writing user documentation for the consumer market now requires an artist's
eye to
design an attractive page layout and to create useful diagrams, a firm grasp
of the technology of the product to explain why (not just how) to use it,
the imagination
of the best fiction writer to develop documentation from NO information, and
intuition of a QA expert to delve into the guts of an application to gain
when no specs are available. I work with Engineers to give advice on user
design, error messages, and overall product design, because often it is only
technical writer who has an understanding of how an entire, complex system
My job is high pressure, exciting, and very challenging. While my skills are
than those of an Engineer, I think they are just as valuable.

Robin Currier
rcurrier -at- rainbow -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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