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Paperback Writing a Professional Life : Stories of Technical Communicators on and off the Job Book

ISBN: 0205321062

ISBN13: 9780205321063

Writing a Professional Life : Stories of Technical Communicators on and off the Job

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Book Overview

This is the first collection of narratives by practicing technical communicators telling their own personal stories about the workplace and their lives on the job. The authors portray a wide range of jobs: writers, editors, interface designers, marketing writers, and trainers working in 9 different technical fields, including software, R&D, engineering , medicine, transportation, and telecommunications. The stories vividly demonstrate the unique power...

Customer Reviews

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What Tech Writers Do

"What exactly does a technical writer do?" In Writing A Professional Life-Stories of Technical Communicators On and Off the Job, twenty-three technical communicators discuss how they came to the profession, the daily challenges they face, and life beyond the job. Writing A Professional Life-Stories of Technical Communicators On and Off the Job was published in 2001. Editor Dale S. Sullivan conceived the idea for the book as a teaching tool for his undergraduate technical communication students at Michigan Technological University. Until this collection, there was no publication detailing technical communication from the professional's perspective, and Dale was having a difficult time "selling" the major to his students. He thought a group of narratives written by the people who actually do the work would be better than anything he could come up with. After putting out a "call for stories" through the Milwaukee STC, many emails, meetings, and phone calls, his idea became a reality. These informative and entertaining narratives comprise three parts: In Part 1, Initiation Stories, we meet several newcomers to technical communication. In Part 2, The Process introduces us to seasoned technical communicators firmly entrenched in the daily processes of the profession. In Part 3, Life On and Off the Job, we meet technical communicators with varied cultural and intellectual interests. Writing A Professional Life also has a Topical Contents that reads like an index of the challenges and concerns technical communicators face daily, from Office Politics, Collaboration and Teamwork, and Gender Issues to process-centered topics like Draft Review, GUI Design, and Software Documentation. I was fascinated to read about people so much like me. The first narrative I read, "What A Life," was written by a technical writer living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, my hometown. She, too, was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Some contributors came to the profession with a love for literature and writing, but they realized that earning a living as a fiction writer was unlikely at best. They wanted to earn a living through writing and found technical communication a solution. The technical communicator in "Fluff" has been in the profession long enough to have the mention of his name followed by "is he still alive?" Although he has worked as a contractor for over twenty years and dealt with just about every brand of hostility out there, he remains committed to this profession because technical communication is in his marrow; it's not just a job, it's his identity. In "A Job Like A Tattoo," a newcomer to the profession quickly learns that in addition to not being greeted by the development team with open arms, she's faced with outright hostility from a programmer. She learns how to handle intimidating coworkers and difficult SMEs and overcomes her original expectations of her job. In "Madame Mao In the Midwest," we see what can happen

What does a "Technical Writer" do?

As the author of one of the twenty-three narratives that appear in this book, I would like to explain what I think its purpose, its role, might be. Not many people outside the industry know what a technical writer is or what he or she does for a living. This book explains that and more. It illustrates, using cleverly disguised real-world examples, what work -- and life -- is like for a technical writer. The stories are excellent depictions of life in the field, and I can honestly recommend this book to anyone who might want to know about or might want to become a technical writer. This text is an excellent source for students.

Everything you've ever wanted to know about the TC Field

This book defines what technical communicators do on the job.This book will appeal to teachers, possible future technical writers, and generally anyone interested in technical communication. The realistic narratives offer valuable insight into defining technical communication employment from a technical communicator's point-of-view. As beginners in the field of TC, the text offers various definitions of TC and provides examples of common problems encountered in the field. The three sections of the book are divided into portions depending on work experience. This is helpful because comparisons are available regarding TC beginners and seasoned veterans along with those in between. Problems covered in the text include: Power struggles between co-workers, technology inadequacies, struggles for TC job definitions and authority within the organization, adapting to the organizational culture, coping with the perils of consulting vs. salaried positions, positive and negative collaboration, finding a voice and respectability within a corporation, and gaining recognition in said corporation.Overall an excellent read answering many questions posed by beginning technical communicators.

By one of the authors

The anecdotes in this book were written, I believe, by people who love their careers as technical communicators. Mine contains a comparison between writing in-house for a hi-tech company and working for a sub-contractor. I hope it helps fledglings skip over some of the worst mistakes, while giving them useful tips.

A must for those interested in technical writing!

This book is a must for all students in technical writing programs and anybody thinking about entering the field of technical writing.
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