Technical Writers May Be the Future of American Literature

Posted on August 14, 2007

A professor argues that technical writers are the future of American literature. Utah Valley State College English professor Scott Hatch says that the great American literature of the early 20th century was penned by journalists such as Ernest Hemingway, but in the future it is the technical writers who have the best training to be novelists. He does not see much difference between different forms of writing, such as poetry or technical writing.
"I think in the technical writing world, we are trying to create a one-to-one correspondence to reality," Hatch said. "In poetry, that one-to-one is paramount as well, but it doesn't end there. That is the gateway" to transcendental ideas. "I think technical writing is probably in some ways, in many important ways, a better education for a creative writer than creative writing," he said.

In class, Hatch does not assign readings from Microsoft or Adobe manuals. The manuals are tedious and he's afraid they will discourage would-be technical writers from entering the field.

"Although, that might convince them, 'Hey, there is a place in the world for me. I can make a difference,'" Hatch said, and the audience members laughed as they considered examples of poor writing.
It's an interesting theory. We've interviewed many journalists and at least one technical writer who said that their profession was the best training for writing a novel because of the discipline they had from always meeting deadlines. Because getting yourself in front of your computer and writing every morning is really the most important thing. If you can't write regularly, you'll never be published, no matter how much talent you have.
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