RE: Neophyte - impostor looking for advice on contract tech-doc job

Subject: RE: Neophyte - impostor looking for advice on contract tech-doc job
From: "Neumann, Eileen" <ENeuman -at- franklintempleton -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2004 14:31:09 -0400

Dear neophyte impostor,

I can't resist this signature. What I would do is take a beginning course in technical writing at a community college. You can do this for one night a week. That would give you a grounding in the basics of writing procedures. There are a few rules and practices to know, and then I'd say you could go off and learn by doing, as you say. Reading a few books on tech writing would also be an excellent idea.

Check out the Techwhirl site for more pointers:

I think it's a great advantage that you have all this subject knowledge. With a bit of writing knowledge and practice, you could be an asset to a software company's documentation efforts. (Though isn't there better money in programming?)

Good luck,


Eileen Neumann
Business Rules & Procedures Specialist


-----Original Message-----
From: zorgalina -at- springmail -dot- com [mailto:zorgalina -at- springmail -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, October 01, 2004 2:10 PM
Subject: Neophyte - impostor looking for advice on contract tech-doc job

hello - I am an erstwhile programmer- I went back to school, obtained an
MA, am looking for work as a developer but also sought tech writing work.
I didn't misrepresent myself, insofar as I've written documentation for my
own software and others, in companies that didn't or couldn't afford
professional tech writers, but am aware that I am not a professional.
I was offered a contract job documenting a fairly simple app (probably
no more than 4 screens, in terms of the UI)- I'd do system and user
documentation. I estimate at this point the total document would be less
than 150 pages, and am hoping to use MS Word 2000, since Framemaker is
very expensive (and worth it, to those who use it every day). I haven't
got all the details from the client, only from someone hiring, but the
don't want Robohelp/online docs, rather, a typical paper-based document.
My questions are: 1)Given the limitations of MS Word, is it feasible to
use Word - the doc will be text-heavy rather than graphic-heavy, and I
expect to save indexing/cross refs until the end. 2) How does one become
a tech writer, if not by doing? I know that now one can get an academic
degree in Tech Comm; I haven't. I'm willing to do research and read
manuals and books as I have for programming -it was a skill more than a
profession when I started out.
thanks in advance for responses.


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