Technical writers need a technical background and sound domain knowledge
To be a good technical writer, you must be a technical expert.
The arguments that refute this myth tend to focus on communication skills as being more important than technical skills.
Anuradha (14 Technical Writing Misconceptions That You Should Know!) describes the technical writer as “a proxy user” and refutes this myth by suggesting that “technical writer’s understanding of the product must be only what a user needs to know, certainly not what the developer knows.” In some highly technical use-cases, “sound domain knowledge may be required,” but there are also cases in which such knowledge isn’t necessary.
Johnson (14 Widespread Myths about Technical Writing) describes cases where being “tech savvy” can be a disadvantage when, for example, “you can’t imagine users not understanding how to disable a popup blocker or not knowing how to do a simple task…” In that post, he mentions the curse of knowledge cognitive bias, which he talks about further in The curse of knowledge – The More You Know, the Worse You Become At Communicating That Knowledge.
Bob (Five Myths- Technical Writing Training) suggests that having an interest in technical subjects can make the job more desirable, but that it is not essential “to have other technical qualifications to be a technical writer;” however, you are likely “to acquire knowledge by asking questions from the experts in the company.”
Caruso (Technical Writing Is Boring, and 5 Other Misconceptions About This $100K Career) the job as, “A great technical writer knows not only what to ask, but also where to find the right information.” And that, “it’s the technical writer’s job to know how to research and transform the materials into comprehensible text for the target audience.”
Prakash (Technical Writing: 10 Myths and Facts (Part 1)) describes technical writing as “a career for those who have a passion for language, style, and consistency.”
- Having an interest in what you’re writing about makes the job more enjoyable; however, understanding the audience of your content and being able to speak to them is what produces the best content.
In practice, this myth is used as an excuse by writers to avoid the position, as in “it’s too technical.” While some technical writing positions are extremely technical, technical communication is a very diverse field.
This myth is also used by employers to screen technical writing candidates, as in “he/she doesn’t have a background that’s technical.” That might be true in some (narrow) circumstances, but being an excellent writer who can effectively obtain information from the subject-matter experts and clearly speak to the audience is often the most critical skill and it’s one that applies across a broad range of subject matter.
- 14 Technical Writing Misconceptions That You Should Know!
- 14 Widespread Myths about Technical Writing
- Five Myths- Technical Writing Training
- Technical Writing Is Boring, and 5 Other Misconceptions About This $100K Career
- Technical Writing: 10 Myths and Facts (Part 1)