RE: Now lone techwriter, startup [long]

Subject: RE: Now lone techwriter, startup [long]
From: Michele Marques <msmarques -at- rogers -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 07:04:28 -0500

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 calendar.

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.

Good luck!

- Michele Marques
msmarques -at- rogers -dot- com

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