I think about it and sometimes have to chuckle. I've written or co-written six manuals for one company and maintenance and repair documentation for a couple others, but I never studied technical writing. The only thing I can think of is that in reading my physics and calculus and engineering books in college, I managed to absorb their writing style. When it came time to document I did for a living, I emulated the style I had read, and for the large part, it worked nicely.
Whether that can work for you or not, I don't know, but it's a point I plotted on my curve which may also fall on yours. Please give it a try. The worst thing that can happen is that it won't work..
I'd think that this would be a good place to learn. If you didn't speak good English, you might learn from hanging around people who did, and the best way to learn a language is to be surrounded by people who speak it. I have patience with people with improper spelling/grammar b/c I'm married to someone who speaks English as a second language. Although I do get mad when I see people with great salaries who make really obvious mistakes, or ads in the paper.
It is my view that an idea expressed through verbal expression is more vital than the language itself. The world has a full share of well written, and spoken, idiots. Spell check? I have fantasies of an 'idiot check". That being said, the human mind develops in response to survived mistakes. It is like what cousin Fred shared, that which does not kills makes us stronger. Spell check? I thought the pope was the only infallible being. Think on, brother, and say what is on your mind! There are few feelings more exquisite than caressing an idea with a word or two. It is not unreasonable to expect a "what do you mean" comment. I fall agree with cousin Martin, the purpose is a better question, not a perfect answer. The human experience is a true dialectic and requires both an interlocutor and an audience. If I spoke or wrote without expectations of clarification, I would speak only to myself. The real problem lies in knowing when to shut up and click "enter".
My dear Mr. Burnham,
While the concept of "idiot check" has great appeal, it must, ultimately, be discarded. Just consider, for a moment, the consequences of all idiotic or imbecilic speech or writing being scrapped, somehow. The upshot of such a situation would, doubtless, be silence. Because, no matter how damn smart you think you are, or, I think I am, there will always be substantial numbers of people who feel that you and or I are idiots. So, a fine and wonderful object for fantasizing, but, a thing of distinctly limited practical use.
My dear SK,
The use of spell check is fraught with dangers. The worst of them is that spell check can not really be trusted very well. I, personally, never use spell check. I always go to a dictionary, either online or on paper. But, as to the charge of cheating, WTF? Any one who refuses to use resources, for whatever reason, is displaying the opposite of intelligence. If you want to improve your writing, just expose it for others to see. You will get enough comments and complaints to give you many ideas on how to improve. The drawback to that is that you need to have a pretty thick skin and a personality which is not put off by the need to rewrite.
One thing I benefit from to this day is having spell check run as I type. To this day, there are certain words whose spelling escapes me, and having that reinforcement immediately not only keeps my text accurate, but refreshes my memory of the proper spelling on the spot.
I should also note: Firefox has spell-check on the fly, and while its dictionary is not as complete as, say, Microsoft Word, it will do in a pinch.