10 things all tech writers should do

Subject: 10 things all tech writers should do
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 11:16:37 -0800 (PST)

10. Develop a style guide. First thing make sure you get every possible style
perturbation figured out. This is very important.

9. Write a comprehensive documentation plan. Don't skimp here. You need to plan
out every last detail of your documents. I usually allow 5 to 10 days to design
and write the plan. Make sure you follow all your styles.

8. Single-source everything. There is simply no excuse for not using the latest
single-sourcing systems. These can dramatically cut down on writing time and
really make you more productive.

7. Hold weekly meetings, with everybody. Use this time to express your issues
about management, projects, and levels of respect. Break out into
cross-functional teams to form consensus on how to more effectively leverage
your team synergies.

6. Get specs. Don't even think of starting work with out detailed
specifications on exactly what you should be doing.

5. Set expectations. Require detailed written expectations from management.
Point out any deviation from these expectations.

4. Join the National Writers Union: This is the best place for fellow writers
to get together and talk about employment issues. And when you get into
trouble, the NWU can lend a hand and help you suck the life our of your

3. Get the best tools: Make sure you spend ample time evaluating,
cross-evaluation, and double-crossed evaluating tools and technologies. No
plug-in or code snippet it too small. Document your evaluations and distribute
these via executable files to everybody in your organization.

2. Remain Writer-focused: Don't let your company encourage you to learn about
technologies. Remember, a good writer can document anything without knowing
about it. Use your SMEs wisely and make sure you focus on what is important:
fonts, styles, and communication.

1. Join STC: Devote yourself to this outstanding organization. The services it
offers technical writers is truly remarkable. From seminars to
lunch-and-learns, there is virtually no end to the valuable resources STC
offers technical communicators. Make sure you also only work with those people
that are also STC members!

Well, I hope this list has been helpful to everybody. Here's to a great 2003!

Andrew Plato

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