I got asked an interesting question. After answering the common "What do you do," question by saying that I’m a freelance writer, I got an unusual follow up question. "So, is that like a regular writer, writer, or is that like a technical writer."
There are two unusual bits to that question. The first is that this person has drawn a distinction between what they perceive as more traditional writers, those who write books, for example, and those who are technical writers. Secondly, if one were to accept such a distinction between "normal" writers and technical writers, where in that paradigm would a freelance writer fit?
What Does a Freelance Writer Write?
The thought turned around in my head for awhile, and I came to the conclusion that that person most know or have known someone who was a technical writer. In hearing about what a technical writer does, a judgment was made that doing that kind of writing wasn’t really the same as being a regular writer. Depending upon the type of technical writing being done, and depending upon how that job is structured in a particular company, I can see the point. One technical writing project I worked on involved taking the notes from the software engineers and pulling them all together into the product documentation. I never even saw the software. There was writing involved, but the real job was actually more like editing.
On the other hand, there are plenty of technical writers who produce copy that rivals that of the most "creative" types of writing.
There is, of course, the stereotype that most people who are not connected somehow to the professional writing world that there are only two kinds of writers, those who write books (fiction or non-fiction) and those who write for newspapers and magazines.
Which brings me back to where this all started. Is a freelance writer like a traditional writer or more like a technical writer?
The answer is yes.
I have long maintained that what separates a true professional freelance writer from others is that the professional freelancer can write anything based upon the client’s needs. So, yes. I am a writer, writer if that is what the client needs. And, yes, I am a technical writer, if that is what my clients need.
And, yes, if anyone is wondering, I also write books when I can find the time.