RE: The Tech in Tech Writer

Subject: RE: The Tech in Tech Writer
From: "Diana Ost" <Diana -dot- Ost -at- msmcorp -dot- com>
To: "elizabeth j allen" <eja -at- samurai -dot- com>, "Keith Hood" <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 14:04:06 -0400

Keith said:

> I think your main concern should be why the previous tech
> writers couldn't catch on. Were they given a chance to
> familiarize themselves with the subjects and communicate
> effectively with the other personnel?
> This is not a knee-jerk defense of tech writers in general.
> If you recall, there was a discussion on this list recently
> about being required to document software without being given
> the chance to actually use the software.
To speak to Keith's point about "catching on": mainly, I rely on my
ability to *learn* and my native inclination and interest in
engineering, science, and computer technology. Test results in high
school indicated a very strong aptitude for engineering, but my gender
was an obstacle in the schools I went to, so I chose technical writing
instead. In addition to technical writing, I have also had other
IT-related jobs: system and network administrator, customer support, and
system and business analyst, all of which broadened my technical
experience considerably. People are sometimes surprised at how technical
I am "for a tech writer." (Surprise!)

There are tech writers who are extremely technical, and there are others
who approach our discipline from a more creative angle. And, some
positions just don't require a lot of technical ability; for example,
writing corporate policies.

In my experience, it's not always the technical writer who failed:
sometimes the hiring manager does not know the "right" questions to ask
a prospective tech writer. Sometimes it can just be a bad fit.

It sounds like they got it right this time, since you have the technical
ability they are looking for. Hopefully, living down your predecessors
won't take too long.

Good luck with the new position!

Diana Ost
Technical Writer/Reporting Analyst

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