RE: "not technical enough"

Subject: RE: "not technical enough"
From: Chris Despopoulos <cud -at- arrakis -dot- es>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 11:10:35 +0200

I agree with the answers that point out a need to
understand, grasp, and even correct the technical
information as you explain it in your writing. And yes, the
proven ability to write code has taken me a long way. And
yes, it's almosty satisfying to hear the engineers say
things like, "Wow, for a technical writer you're sort of,
um, well... I mean, gosh, you know - you caught on pretty
quickly." Back-handed compliments are nice because they
signal a change of paradigm, I suppose.

But I disagree with the following:

rebecca rachman said (about benefits of being "technical"):
4. You will have better research skills. (I hate to admit
it, but
is true that the exact
sciences graduates simply have better reasoning,
and research skills
than the social sciences and liberal arts
majors. It has to do
with training, not intelligence.)

I don't claim training in either exact sciences or social
sciences/liberal arts. But I can tell you that engineers
are as varied in their organizational and research skills as
anybody else. In fact, when it comes to organizing human
language, flow of learning, etc. they can be pretty bad.
And these things have to do with research, organization, and

This is a good thing because it keeps us employed.
Engineers are specialists, and so are writers. To the
degree that an engineer can reach out of his specialty, he
is a better engineer, and the same holds true for writers.

I have known engineers who couldn't write a complete
sentence. I'm talking PHD, here. Or a funnier example...
In the old days I had a ratty VW. One day the horn stopped
working. I got a screw-driver and went out to the parking
lot to fix it. An engineer saw me doing this and exclaimed,
"You mean, you can *fix* something like that?!" The point
being that specialization, like it or not, defines much of
what modern people do. But I believe that breaking out of
your specialty has great benefits.

So if *all* you can do is write, maybe you should take the
time to learn other things that interest you. Then, when
you write about them, you will not be a good writer, you
will be a superlative writer.


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