Re: Work harder not smarter

Subject: Re: Work harder not smarter
From: Chris <cud -at- telecable -dot- es>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2001 10:03:30 +0100

A Plato says:

If I had to break down a tech writers time into percentages it might look
like this:

2% Planning / arguing over fonts / learning tools
50% Learning technologies / interacting with SMEs
25% Head down, butt in chair, banging out text
20% Editing and tweaking
3% Administrative stuff

Actually, if you combine the planning and the learning, and use 5% or a little more of *that* time to write down what you initially learned and how it informs your project (planning, that is), you could probably cut the learning down to 45%, and have more time with your butt in the chair. I'd say that comes closer to my break-down - or maybe even less learning time, since I'm a quick study (on the one hand) and I can only type so fast (on the other). Fact is, I never get/start a writing or programming job without specifying what it is I will produce. For programming, it's as much CYA as it is planning... If it isn't in the spec, it isn't in the estimate, and you have to pay extra for it. For writing, it's a tool I use to make sure the client and I are thinking about the same thing.

As for fonts, I'm no graphic designer. Paying me to worry about them would be a waste of money. I don't think I have ever been paid (or asked) to worry about fonts. For large projects, my doc plan has informed decisions about typographic elements such as the levels of headings, lists, etc. But that's because I pass semantic requirements to the designer, and the designer turns those into design elements. No argument.

Learning tools? My tool expertise is part of what I sell. I don't charge for the time to learn them. That would be silly.

I would guess much of this argument is about terms... At least for some, doing the research for a doc plan is, well, "learning the technology". Let's say half of that learning time, at least. The initial ramp-up is usually the most expensive part of learning - once you have the overall product/vocabulary/concepts, etc. then you can catch the specific difficulties and speak intelligently with the SME's or whomever. So of course you'll get howls of protest if you say you expect all that to happen in 2% of the time.
Can't we all just be friends? ([horribly boring piano vamp] "Imagine all the wooo-oorrrrrld, writing docs in peace...")

Sorry - I seem to be procrastinating today.

cud


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