Re: Contractors - Typ Job Duties?

Subject: Re: Contractors - Typ Job Duties?
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2000 20:29:54 -0800 (PST)

> It occurred to me that this was NOT a writing test; it was a test of my
> willingness to pour hear-and-soul over non-sense time-and-time-again until I
> could make some sense out of it. The exercise of any writing skill was not
> a primary task. Is this what contract TW is all about?

Absolutely. I would go so far as to argue that this is what ALL tech writing is
about. Take nonsense and pound it into order.

Sure, you can flower up a job with BS like style guides and worrying about the
readability of sans serif, but the core function of any writer is to transform
crap into sense.

In contracting this fact is much more noticeable because companies are not very
tolerant of tech writers who diddle around with one-off work. Contract tech
jobs are by and large "jam out the docs and LEAVE" type of arrangements. They
don't want you re-engineering the company. They just want the docs and they
want them NOW!

Case in point. A year ago my company was working on site with a client. They
had another writer working on a different project. Both of us were hired to
edit/write a large doc set (hers was different from ours). First thing she
tried to do was setup style guides and have debates about fonts. All this stuff
was set up before she got there and did not need changing. She protested. The
client told her repeatedly that this was not her job and to get working writing
the docs. She continued to try and change things and missed a deadline. The
client got fed up and terminated her contract. She wasn't hired to diddle, she
was hired to write. (The good part is we got her job!)

So...Tony, all I can say is, if you're not comfortable making crap pretty, then
forget contracting. Clients have very low tolerance for nonsense when they're
forking over $75.00 per hour (unmargined).

Andrew Plato

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