RE: Questions about the Technical Writing field

Subject: RE: Questions about the Technical Writing field
From: "Sean Brierley" <sbri -at- haestad -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 14:18:57 -0400

Sean Brierley
Software Documentation Specialist
Haestad Methods
203-805-0572 (voice)
203-597-1488 (fax)

-----Original Message-----

I am a technical writing student at Virginia Tech, and I would really
appreciate it if any of you could take a few minutes to answer some or
all of the following questions about the field of technical writing.
feel free respond to me off-list at jumays -at- vt -dot- edu and thank you for your

1. How/why did you become a professional writer?
I started in college as an intern, always wanted to do it, and am good
at it. Plus, it kinda pays the bills.

2. What is your job title? job description?

Software documentation specialist. I've been technical writer, technical
publications manager, etc. Doesn't mean much to me.

3. What percentage of your time is spent writing, editing, or


4. What types of writing, editing, and presenting do you do?

Online help, online PDF, and offset-press-printed and bound software

5. Who are your audiences and what are their needs?

Civil engineers who use our software.

6. What things do your audiences expect from your documents or

Accuracy, ease of use, ease of access. My audience is also my boss. He
expects on-time and under-budget. These last two are very important.

7. What is your biggest writing-related challenge on the job?

Keeping the micromanagement at bay. I know best. I'm good at this. I'm
the pro.

8. What about deadlines? How do they influence the way your write
on the job?

Deadlines are everything. These get negotiated up-front.

9. What standard and predictable processes (writing techniques,
organizational templates, heuristics for brainstorming, etc.), if any,
do you employ in profession-related writing?

Single-sourcing which requires good structure, organization, and
adherence to a particular workflow.

10. What are the frustrations/rewards of your work?

Overtime is a huge frustration. Micromanagement is second.

11. What advice do you have for students?

Learn some programming. VB .NET, Java, whatever. Even if you don't write
in the computing industry, it'll stand you in good stead.

Finally, I have tickets to the tech v. B.C. game (in Boston). Am looking
forward to it. I went to tech, my wife went to B.C. I saw B.C. play a
horrible game against my local (10 minutes from my home) team, UCONN.
Things look good for a Hokie blow-out!



Experience RoboHelp X3! This new RoboHelp release combines single sourcing,
print-quality documentation, conditional text and much more, into the most
monumental release of RoboHelp ever!

Acrobat & FrameMaker Seminars: PDF Best Practices, FrameMaker-to-Acrobat
Advanced Techniques, FM Template Design, Single Sourcing with FrameMaker
in Brussels (Oct), and in Montreal & Dallas (Dec):

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