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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Technical Writer, a misnomer

Here goes my rant about technical writing:

What is a technical writer? A writer who writes about technical things? I guess. I don't know. It seems that what considered technical writing is a complete misnomer. Why do I say this? It seems based on the many years of experience I have, I do very little original writing. At very best, it seems I can get write in the holes to make up for missing content. Most of the time, it just seems I am spending designing documents, proofreading, editing or rewriting muddied content.

Maybe I'm being picky but when I think about technical writing, it should be about writing technical content from scratch. This should be done by research, or interviewing SME, or both. But the fact that most of time, I don't get to write original content most of the time really calls into question the moniker known as "technical writer."

And if you want to write original technical content, then you need to be a programmer or an engineer. If that's the case, then these SME should write, revise, edit, design, and publish their documents themselves. Other than proofreading, rewriting the content, if needed, and designing the document, what do they need us for?

I wonder half the time, if I'm an actually a writer or a technical typist with style (now, there's a job title). But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. I get paid to do what I do, when I do it.

I'm not being a crybaby for not writing original content most of the time. I don't mind doing what I do. I actually enjoy it. I'm merely calling in question the label "technical writer."

Maybe other terms like "content auditor" or "technical rewriter" would be better terms. I would be fine with using terms that exists already like "document designer", "technical editor," or "documentation specialists". I think these are better terms to describe to what we do, but the term technical writer, I dunno.

Maybe you're experience is different than mine. If you have written original technical content, then great. I have written ghostwritten original tech content as well. But to most, it wouldn't be considered technical writing. I'm just saying, unless you're writing original technical content, I think it's time to rethink this job label: technical writer.

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