If our definition of writing is to be the cornerstone of the types of professional writing courses we design, then a quick review of Jim Henry’s Chapter 7, “Representing Discursive Work in the Workplace,” found in Writing Workplace Cultures might help us to revisit our own definitions of writing, and may have us consider some productive alternatives.
How we view the professional, or technical writer can definitely impact the type of courses we design to educate those writers. Does the technical writer exist within an organization as a ‘scribe’ who is only to record others realities? Does a technical writer’s use of machines, and collaborative approaches mean technical writers should pursue only secretarial functions?
Consider a definition of writing that included not only the processes of writing, but writing also as a “unique form of meaning production and of discursive engagement as shaping realities rather than merely reflecting them” (Henry, 141) Then our professional writing course design might look radically different then with the former approach.
If you are interested in viewing a range of views of the professional writer, from ‘secretary’ or ‘scribe’ to the professional writer as an expert in navigating organizational and larger cultures who skillfully represents her discursive work in both document and cultural processing, then Henry’s work is worth reading prior to designing technical writing courses.