Techwriters v. the World

Subject: Techwriters v. the World
From: James Lockard <NORTon5150 -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 May 1995 20:59:14 -0400

Stop the insanity! What a mess these threads have become. Tech Writers v.
Engineers, Tech Writers with technical expertise v. Tech Writers sans
technical expertise, when does it end?
Hopefully soon.
But before it does, I'd like to throw another log on the fire. Two ideas have
been presented that I feel I must refute:
1. Tech Writers *need* a technical background.
2. Writing is an innate talent without which one cannot be a good writer.
Some on this list have suggested that, without technical expertise, technical
writers can only write "fluff". Hello? While I agree that a technical
background in the subject matter can make it easier to document a product,
it's ridiculous to assume a technical background is necessary. If every
technical writer was an expert in the subject matter, who needs the SME? Why
would I want to pigeon-hole myself into writing about one field? In the end,
technical writing is about writing and the core of skills needed to write
well. It is not about having an engineer's background, and it's not about the
tools we use

Now when Vince says writing is an innate talent, I think this sounds
dreadfully similar to the "nature v. nurture" argument. Is writing an inborn
talent or a learned skill? I think it is a mixture of both. To use an
analogy, think of a person's innate talents as ingredients and his/her
experiences as the recipe. You need both to create the finished product.
Though you may have the talent to write, without the education and practice
needed to hone that talent, it's unlikely you'll become a great writer.
Almost everyone has some ability to write. I doubt there is anyone who, with
great desire, determination and perseverance, could not become and adept
writer. The same is true for engineering, programming, etc.

Let's end this thread though (as I stoke the flames). With all this talk of
"vapours", we'd best avoid flammable topics. ; )
James Lockard (JAMESL%DMT -at- MCIMAIL -dot- COM or NORTON5150 -at- AOL -dot- COM)

"Whether you think you can do something or you think you can't, you're
probably right."

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