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I've usually been a long techwriter - sometimes at a startup and
sometimes at a more mature company. But whatever the case, there are
usually lots of documents that need to be created or revised, often lots
more you would like to do than time permits, and no (or few) styles and
processes in place.
Whether a startup or not, your first obligation is to create the
documents that the clients need. If they can't get those documents, they
won't care if you've established styles, processes or whatever.
Styles are useful for keeping your documents consistent. As you are
creating the first documents, as others have advocated, you can just
start writing and save the styles that you create on-the-fly. Create the
paragraph and/or character styles as you need them, save a copy of your
document as a template (or copy the styles into a template document),
and keep using those styles.
Procedures are to make sure that you know the best way to get things
done. Did you do something and it worked? Keep doing it that way until
you hit on something better or it stops working and you need to adjust.
I suggest using a calendar and a to-do list for your planning. First, on
a piece of paper, list all the things you need to create (that you know
of now). If you know of any deadlines, put those on your calendar. Block
out the time needed to create the documents for those deadlines on the
If there's anything major on your list without a known deadline, try to
block out time to work on it during any gaps in your calendar.
Copy everything else to your to-do list.
You'll try to work according to your calendar. As new things come up,
put them into your calendar or to-do list if they have deadlines -
unless they are due immediately and take priority, in which case you
just do them and adjust your calendar later and/or work late to catch
up. If you have any time you're not working off your calendar, pick
something off your to-do list and work on that.
- Michele Marques
msmarques -at- rogers -dot- com
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