Re: Now lone techwriter, startup

Subject: Re: Now lone techwriter, startup
From: Martha J Davidson <editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 18:16:46 -0800

At 12:33 PM 3/13/2002 -0700, Ellen Vanrenen wrote:

I am now a lone techwriter in a fast-paced start-up.
I'm not focused right now. I don't know what to tackle first.

Hi Ellen,

Welcome back. Now that I've finished that last chapter for the
first set of beta docs and sent it out for review, I can take a breath
and respond to your query.

I've been in your situation a number of times, including my current
job. It's hard to believe I've been here almost a year. I'm the first
tech writer this startup (just over a year old now) ever had, so it
was up to me to decide what was needed and to make it happen.

When I got here, I did several things concurrently. First, I read
everything I could find about the products--design documents,
white papers, PowerPoint presentations. At the same time, I
started creating FrameMaker templates for the manuals I knew
I would be writing. When I was offered the job, my new boss
asked me what tools I wanted in addition to FrameMaker and
Acrobat, so I asked for WebWorks Publisher Professional, with
the idea that if there was only one of me, then some rudimentary
form of single-sourcing was our only hope of producing both
printed books and online help.

I also talked with as many people as I could about who the audience
of our products was and what they did as they used the products.
I used this information to think about what books they might need.
Then, using the prototype template, I created a very basic doc
plan, listing what I knew about the products and what information
users would need.

Once I'd finished the plan, I used what I knew about the products
to start writing whatever I could. And I got my hands on the products
and figured out what they did and added that to my documents.
And so on and so on... You get the idea.

Basically, I did what I had to so that I could write, and then I wrote
what what I knew. And in 4 months we had a release with 5 books
and in a few weeks we have beta of the 2.0 release, with new versions
of those books and more...

And so it goes...


Martha Jane {Kolman | Davidson}
Dances With Words
mailto:editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com

"We must become the change we want to see in the world."

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