Re: Mentoring

Subject: Re: Mentoring
From: Damien Braniff <dbraniff -at- iss-dsp -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 08:30:31 +0000

> Mentoring is the ideal introduction for new authors but not always possible (small
> firms, lone authors etc).

When I got my first job I hadn't even heard of TW let alone know what they did or
how it was done. Probably lucky in that it was a specialist documentation company
and I was working with 18 other authors producing documentation for software from
the source code. Very much on the job training - given a simple style guide, the
software and told to get on with it! After my first draft my mentor sat down with
me and went through what I'd done with the obvious errors pointed out and of I went
to re-write. On my first doc (smallish!) I probaby did 5-6 re-writes and each time
my mentor went over it in detail, getting deeper into with each review, always
encouraging etc. Doc finally went out after about 3 months. After that it was
write, review and out the door. After that initial doc I also got the opportunity to
review her work and this was agin part of the learning experience. I always remember
one thing she told me about reviewing docs - resist the temptation to change
something because it's not the way you would have said it. There's no one correct
way of phrasing something so have a good reason for changing something; if it's
wrong fine, if it's hard to understand fine but if it's simply phrasing etc then
OFFER a suggestion and leave it up to the originator.

Once I'd been there for a while I was given a new author to guide through those
first steps in the big bad world of TW!! After 17 years in the business I'm still
at it. Indeed I feel it is my duty to pass on what I know. This is partly in
recognition of the help I received over the years (still learning) and partly
because I care about what I do and bad writers give the profession a bad name - good
namefor profession --> work!

Damien Braniff
Technical Author
Integrated Silicon Systems Ltd. Tel: +44 28 90 50 4000
50 Malone Road Fax: +44 28 90 50 4001
Belfast BT9 5BS Web:

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