RE: Slow Tech Writers (offshoot of "Looking for advice -- up to t he j ob?")

Subject: RE: Slow Tech Writers (offshoot of "Looking for advice -- up to t he j ob?")
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2002 14:34:29 -0400

Well, I think I'm a sprinder.... or maybe a grinter.

I'm a lone writer.

I thrive on getting the new stuff "on paper" -- including
all the last-minute and post-last-minute changes,
and getting it out when the product goes "GA".
Encroaching deadlines get my pulse a' trippin'.

I'm also the person who asks all those annoying
questions that even the PV (product verification
or QA or whatever ya wanna call 'em) people don't

I try not to take *too* much offence when people
(like -- shudder!-- engineers or --cringe!-- marketers)
rewrite my stuff, cuz if I look at it after a month
or so, I'll want to re-write it myself.

But, that said, I'm simply not picky enough with the
details to be considered a true grinder. At some
point, I cry "enough!" and move onto something else.
I haven't met many grinder writers, so I'm comparing
myself in this respect to a fellow named Michael Mack,
who was laid off from our PV crew, last year, when
we underwent... uh ... um... corporate shrinkage.

Mike was a tad pedantic, but he was simply amazing
with details. I'm sincerely sorry that the man is
no longer available to shred... er, I mean, review
my customer documents. Be pleased and appreciative,
if you ever find yourself working with him.

On the other hand, I've met writers who are much
quicker than I at putting it all together. I need
some time to get my head wrapped around both a new
product and a new work/reporting situation (i.e., who
is the SME for this or that, who can I pop in on, and
who can't stand interruptions, who has sensitive "toes"
("NEVER talk to my people without seeing me first...")
and all that stuff). But once I reach my threshold,
it just flows. When I've acquired a sufficient grasp
of the product, I don't expend any effort to write
it up. It's like turning on a tap. The stuff just pours
out through my fingers.

So, while I thrive on tight deadlines just the
way any good procrastinator does, that only
works in the context where I've got a comfortable
base built up. I know who I'm working with and
have much of the background learned, and now I
just need to learn a new, related product and
write it up. Without that comfort base -- if you
dropped me into a totally new situation, I might
survive, but my health and equanimity would suffer
measurably. I probably wouldn't even keep the
pistacchio bowl filled, at the entrance to my cube...

And here's a heresy that the late (lamented?) A.P.
would blast... I don't learn everything there is
to know about every subject that might touch my
product. For example, I write about hardware
cryptographic engines that are used in network
settings, but I have STILL not memorized PKCS#11
version 2.x, and I still don't know enough about
networking to set up a corporate LAN with all the
relevant servers and firewalls and such. I'd have
to crack a book or three if my paycheck suddely
depended on my network administration abilities...
Instead, I learn as much as interests me, or as
much as I need in order to get a workable context
for the core subject matter, whichever comes later.

To that extent, I guess I don't adhere to "best
practices". I've got a life. :-)

Grinter? Sprinder? You tell me.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jason Willebeek-LeMair [mailto:jlemair -at- cisco -dot- com]
> Just as the grinders cannot seem to speed up, the sprinters
> cannot seem to
> slow down. They get bored going back over their documents to
> fix things up
> or make incremental improvements. They are thrill
> junkies--always looking
> for their fix of learning something new or presenting
> information in a new
> way.

> Sprinters -- excell at learning new technology areas (and passing that
> knowledge on), incorporating last-minute changes, adding new
> features and
> functionality. They address the time-to-market issues with
> the project.
> Grinders -- excell at making improvements to existing documentation,
> addressing customer satisfaction issues, and beating down
> even the smallest
> issues that plague every documentation set (you know, those
> little questions
> that even the people who wrote the code don't seem to have an
> answer to).
> They address the quality issues with the project.

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