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I've been on this list a long time, and seen quite a few "what do we call
ourselves" threads pass by. On the whole, I've chosen to stick with
"technical writer", but for a purely personal reason. I can't forget the
years of unpaid fiction writing on the side, and the thrill of finally being
able to call myself a "writer" out loud and mean that someone was actually
paying me. The newly won title wasn't something I wanted to give up.
But something caught my attention recently that might make me change my
mind. Rather than taking a title to "elevate" (some might argue it should
be "lower") myself to the status of developer, I might need to find a new
title to differentiate myself from them.
Recently my company did a matrix of our employees technical skills. One of
the skills listed was "technical writing". And nearly all the programmers
listed years of tech writing experience. It was certainly valid--they write
white papers, technical notes, readme files, specs, etc., and respond to
questions from colleagues and potential customers. They write a *lot*.
But it pretty much usurped my territory. If the chief scientist is listing
20 years of tech writing experience, how does that make my paltry five years
look? Is he a better technical writer than I am? Looking at that matrix,
there is literally nothing I do that can't be done by someone else and,
based on experience, done better.
My response was to find ways to differentiate my kind of tech writing from
theirs. I added skills such as user documentation, online help, and web
And now suddenly I'm feeling less of a connection to the title "technical
Sella Rush mailto:sellar -at- apptechsys -dot- com
Applied Technical Systems (ATS)
Developers of the CCM Database