From Overlooked to Center Stage. STC Currents Conference. Tom Johnson • idratherbewriting.com • @ tomjohnson. t he problem. “Just a Writer”. You’ll be “nothing but a writer.”.
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STC Currents Conference
Tom Johnson • idratherbewriting.com • @tomjohnson
“After 12 awful years of working [at a company], I can concur with everything said in this article. This is a horrible, horrible “profession” (if you call it that).… Employers expect you to know just as much as the engineers, but you get no time to finish your product (yours needs to be done tomorrow whereas the engineers get years to plan and develop it), you’re expected to know every graphics and new online tool out there, you’re paid half as much as the engineers, and you have no hope of promotion. Oh yeah…and you’re expendable when things get tight…because you’re ‘just a writer.’
“I finally got so angry and frustrated that I entered an AACSB-accredited MBA program. Much to the surprise of my fellow engineer co-workers in the same program, I’m kicking their butts in all of the classes (“Gee-wiz…you mean writers are smart?!? Go figure!”). Advice to young people reading this: They say that, in business, if you don’t make, sell, or finance a product, you’re nothing. This is true. DO NOT go into tech writing. You’ll be ‘nothing but a writer.’ – Been there, done that…never again.” Comment on the Raw, Unvarnished Truth
“I recently quit my job as a permanent technical writer at a software company because I was being worn down by a thankless and impossible job. Generally as a writer I was regarded as unimportant, a pain, or totally forgotten about, until someone screamed at me they needed a manual – tomorrow. We were seldom told what was being designed or developed until the very last minute, when it was assumed we could magically summon up the knowledge of the entire design/development/install team overnight, and produce a polished manual.
“At the same time, you are considered the lowest of the low – too dumb to be a developer or even a tester. I even sometimes experienced developers ‘baby talk’ to me when explaining how their code works!!!!! … Technical writing is not worth it unless you are being paid A LOT. You will waste all your good energy on a thankless, frustrating, difficult job. I am a much much happier person now." Comment on the Raw, Unvarnished Truth
“Doing what you're told to do and what you're expected to do is nowadays simply not enough anymore. You always have to do something more than what you're basically supposed to be doing."
“To be successful over the next 10-15 years, tech comm people are going to have to become hyphenated. You can't just be a technical writer. You have to be a technical writer-usability expert. Or a technical writer-accessibility expert. Or a technical writer-project manager.”