RE: URGENT HELP Beginning Technical Writing

Subject: RE: URGENT HELP Beginning Technical Writing
From: Lyn Worthen <Lyn -dot- Worthen -at- caselle -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 1 May 2003 09:30:09 -0600

Among other things, Maggie wrote this about working at home as a Tech
> ...<snip>...
> Nonetheless, there's still no way to do that
> completely off-site. There may be jobs out there that
> you could do completely from home, but if so, I think
> I'd be perfectly content to trade my tech writer
> moniker for something less lofty.
> ...<snip>...
> But that's special circumstances. You can't expect to
> do that every day.

I'm curious as to why you (or anyone) would think that you can't do tech
writing completely from home (caveat: depending upon the particulars of the
project, available technology, other resources, etc.). I do it on a regular

In the past three years I've written (from home):
- Installation, administration, and end-user material. Client 400 miles
away, one on-site meeting at project kickoff. Frequent phone/email contact.
(Updated the doc suite the following year for the next revision of the
- Web-based end-user tutorial. Client on opposite side of country.
Frequent phone/email contact.
- Help files for a new software product. Project manager halfway across
the country, developers in a different country. Frequent phone/email
- (Rewritten) existing (engineer-written) installation, administration, &
end-user material for yet another product. Client 150 miles away, one
on-site meeting at project kickoff, frequent phone/email contact.
- CBT training module (with other modules pending budget approval). Client
50 miles away, periodic on-site meetings at project kickoff and major
milestones, frequent phone/email contact.

Oddly enough, I've felt -more- like a full-fledged "technical writer" in the
offsite work I've done. I've had access to more resources, gotten better
feedback from SMEs, and actually been in a position to drive projects to a
"finished" resolution than I have in many of the FT jobs I've had. (And
yes, I -do- consider the rewrite project to have been a "legitimate" writing
job - it took just as much work to go through the existing material, work
through using the product, consult with SMEs to determine what the audience
needed to know, etc., as any project that I've ever started from scratch.)

True, I didn't -learn- to be a TW from home, although, now that I think of
it, for most of my early projects I had the option of working at home or in
the office - I mostly chose to work in the office because I didn't have the
resources available to me then that I've managed to collect over the years.
I think I learned more from being in the office and working with some
fabulous mentors than I would have if I'd tried to go it alone from the
beginning - and if for nothing other than that experience, I'd recommend
that the original person who started this thread (someone thinking about
becoming a TW and working at home, if I recall), make an effort to develop
strong connections with other writers, if a regular, entry-level, TW job
isn't forthcoming.



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