Creativity AND Standards?

Subject: Creativity AND Standards?
From: "Kathi Jan Knill" <Kathi -dot- Knill -at- template -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 14:36:32 -0400

I have been lurking here following this somewhat twisting thread and have
finally decided to put in my $.02 (for whatever it is worth).

I would venture to say that you have been discussing creativity and
standards as though the two could not possibly co-exist. And on that I beg
to differ. We as tech writers by nature are creative people. If we were not
creative, we would not be able to look at something (be it software or
hardware) that we must document (provide information for/about) and express
it to someone else (no matter who they are) in a manner in which that
individual would understand it. The creativity is inherent in our jobs.
Every day we look at very complex products, determine to whom we must
explain the products, and then take that information, and design
information so that someone can take the product and use it.

What we do is not rocket science. In fact, it is not even a science. I
could no more tell you the things I go through and the thoughts I have when
I start to write doc, than I could build an airplane. I go through some
creative process (excuse the word) and come up with doc. Just like I and a
photographer can look at a couple walking down the street, and the
photographer can capture not only the image but also a meaning. It is not
as though we don't see the same thing. Just like our audience sees what we
can see. It is just that, like the photographer, we use our creativity to
bring something that adds value to what we see.

As for standards, we could not be free to do our jobs without them. We sit
down in a new job and as long as they have standards in place that allow us
to format the doc in a manner that is consistent with the company's other
doc, we are able to be creative. Standards are not there for those of us
who know them. They are there for those of us who don't. They exist so that
our creativity can exist in company doc. Whether you work for a big
company, a little company, or freelance, your doc is the creation. The
format of the doc (whether a header is bolded and arial 12 or not) does not
take away from that. However it does add something that the company needs,
and that is uniformity. Our world expects it from companies and therefore
we provide it.

The long and the short of it is, that I believe the very nature of our
doing our jobs, and doing them well, allows us to express our creativity.
And standards are in place to make that easier and more fitting for


Kathi Jan Knill
Senior Technical Writer
Template Software
Kathi -dot- Knill -at- Template -dot- com
"Your mind can only hold one thought at a time. Make it a positive and
constructive one." --H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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