Re: types of documents

Subject: Re: types of documents
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2002 06:42:16 -0700

Sounds like you know the answers to these questions anyway. The very
nature of your questions shows that you have a grasp of the wide range of
challenges in tech writing. And the very fact that you know about this
list shows your initiative; reading this list will continually show you
the diversity of this profession.

How to be savvy? Every situation is different. We get paid to use our
brains (a tool *almost* as important as Word or FrameMaker) to figure out
the best approach for each situation. When it comes to tech writing,
you're going to learn more from DOING it than you will from READING about
it. The road to savviness is not paved with "For Dummies" books. I think
Descartes said that.

There *are* some great books out there, don't get me wrong. But none of
them will provide the "instant tech writer - just add water" solution you
may be seeking.

Some people swear by the Hackos book. Others (myself included) think she's
dreaming. I like "The Tech Writing Game" as a realistic view of this
profession, but I don't remember if it covers all the variables you
listed. I don't think it does. No one book does. Nor should it.

And as far as how to negotiate a killer salary, there's tons of books. My
faves are "Knock 'Em Dead" by Yate and "Negotiating Your Salary: How to
Make $1000 a Minute" by Jack Chapman.

But don't just focus on finding quick answers. It's annoying as hell when
some fresh-faced tech writer joins your team with a copy of Hackos under
one arm and a Tech Writing Certificate (whatever THAT is) under the other,
and starts telling you that you've all got to start information mapping,
single sourcing, XML-ing, or whatever - before he or she has even read a
word of your company's documentation.

It may sound like we're spanking you. We're not. Well, *I'm* not, but
Posada is known to be grouchy. :) I want to encourage you to LEARN. And
keep learning. In my opinion, it's a major part of our job: first we learn
it, then we communicate it to others. Do it for a while and you'll be
savvy. Whether you like it or not! :)

Good luck!

- Keith Cronin

Lola walked into my shabby office, a secretarial bombshell with a 5-dollar
haircut and million-dollar legs. She sat on the corner of my desk, next to
my gun and half-empy flask, crossing her legs and popping her chewing gum.
She handed me a solitary sheet of paper. "Thanks, doll," I said, squinting
up at her through the haze of my cigarette. Then I looked more closely at
the paper, and grabbed the dame by the arm. "Wait a minute, toots," I
barked. Lola's eyes grew wide with terror, waiting for me to ask the
question she dreaded. The question she knew I had to ask.

"Did you use styles?"

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