10 Things All Technical Writers Should Do

Subject: 10 Things All Technical Writers Should Do
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 18:17:13 -0800 (PST)


1. You understand or are willing to learn the subject matter.

2. You have no emotional attachments to your work. You see it as product that
needs to be perfected, not an expression of yourself.

3. You ask relevant, probing questions and listen to the answers.

4. Prioritize your time. Focus on what is most important: content.

5. Answer the 5 Golden Questions:

1. What is it?
2. What does it do?
3. What is its purpose?
4. How does it work (or how does it do what it is supposed to do)?
5. Why is it relevant?

6. Master your environment and information. If you act like a cog in a machine,
you will be treated and respected accordingly. Take control of the process. Use
it to your advantage.

7. Demonstrate your expertise. Prove your knowledge.

8. Good writing is 5-10% fonts, styles, and grammar and 90-95% brain-numbing,
keyboard pecking, intellectually draining drudgery. If this ratio tilts to
high to the fonts and styles side, you're probably not focusing on the right

9. Results are more important than plans.

10. Criticize things you don't know about. Live in a swamp and be three
dimensional. Get all excited and go to a yawning festival. Go into a closet and
suck eggs.

Andrew Plato

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