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Re: Eng vs Writer, BULL, Writing is an Innate Talent
Subject:Re: Eng vs Writer, BULL, Writing is an Innate Talent From:"Arlen P. Walker" <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 2 May 1995 11:47:00 -0600
It does not take a Communications or Engineering degree to make a good
Technical Writer. It takes the equivalent of both AND the INNATE
talent to write to be a real TechWriter. Ya either got it or you don't
This reminds me of some Soviet research in chess. They were wanting to find
ways to spot the upcoming chess talents early, wanting to find those
diamonds in the rough who were born with the talent to be a great
chessplayer. So they studied closely every known grandmaster, checking all
kinds of factors for a correlation to chess ability, from religion to diet
to eye color to left-handedness.
They found only one factor which had an absolute positive strong correlation
to level of skill in chess: time spent at the chessboard!
I think we'd find much the same in our field. Quality of writer depends upon
time spent writing. (Remember Robert Heinlein's famous advice to a neophyte
who wanted to know the secret of writing success? "1) Apply butt to chair.
2) Write." )
You're of course free to argue that only those with any sort of talent or
gift for it would spend the time writing that it takes to develop as a
writer. Perhaps that is the case; we'll never know because we can't measure
that sort of thing. But I have yet to meet anyone who couldn't become a
passable writer given time and energy (I have, however met several who
weren't interested in spending either of those quantities).
Hemmingway once described geniuses (genii?) as no different qualitatively
from "normal" people. They were just faster. (Faster learners, faster
No, I don't buy "either you got it or you don't." I do, however, buy "either
you want it or you don't." I see the "innate talent" argument as an attempt
to avoid responsibility for your choices in life ("I wanted to be a writer,
really I did, but I just didn't have the talent"). Bah! Humbug!
"Success in any field has its price, and it comes only to those willing to
pay that price, and it stays only with those willing to continue paying the
price." St. Vincent of Green Bay.
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
In God we trust; all others must provide data.