Re: Spinoff of: Where did you get your feet wet

Subject: Re: Spinoff of: Where did you get your feet wet
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 07 Jun 2005 12:00:13 -0700

Anthony Hernandez wrote:
> I've taken mostly writng courses, and a few graphic
> design courses, a usability course and others from the
> required courses list. If I'm looking for a career in
> TWing, am I at a disadvantage if I don't have a
> footing in science/engineering/technology?

That depends on what you want to do.

Without some technical background, you can still get a job as a
technical writer. In fact, some technical writers seem to take a
perverse pride in not having much technical background. They argue that
their expertise is writing, and their skills are transferable to any

However, this belief is a half-truth at best. While a knowledge of
structure, for example, can be transferred to almost any subject,
technical writing is like any other sort of writing: To do well, you
generally have to write about what you know. Even your writing skills
will be more useful with more expertise.

The chances are that a lack of technical knowledge will prevent you from
doing the best possible job. It may make your relationships with
developers strained, because they may feel that they have to carry you.
It will almost certainly keep you from some of the more interesting jobs
in the field. So, if you care about your work or want interesting work,
you do need a technical background.

You can pick up this background on the job, the way that many writers
did (including me). But, so long as you're still in school, take
advantage of the opportunity and at least lay the groundwork for your
technical background. I think you'll be glad that you did.

Bruce Byfield 604-422-7177

"Inspiration and craft plus time and effort minus fear and doubt
multiplied by purpose equals song."
- Ray Wylie Hubbard


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Spinoff of: Where did you get your feet wet: From: Tom Johnson

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