The Problem With Keeping It Plain And Simple?

Subject: The Problem With Keeping It Plain And Simple?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Tony Markos <ajmarkos -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006 10:12:09 -0400

Tony Markos noted: <<Good technical writing is so simple and straight forward, they will wonder what took you so long.>>

Not necessarily. It can take a lot of time to figure out how to explain a truly difficult concept (or interface) simply enough that everyone will understand. Professionals may make it _look_ easy, but it ain't. Plus, most of us face the more serious problem of getting the job done in an inadequate amount of time. Writing faster means that we're more likely to meet our deadline, and meeting deadlines is often more important to our managers than the number of pages we create.

Moreover, my experience has generally been that I ran out of time to do everything I wanted to do, including a final pass through the documentation to fine-tune index keywords, make sure the interface didn't get changed behind my back, and so on. There are always more things to do than there's time to do them. I've rarely worried about having to make it look like I was busy when all the while I was secretly playing Solitaire. <g>

<<The above statement largely explains why "Plain and Simple" writing is so rare.>>

It horrifies me to think that there are still managers who evaluate our productivity by page counts. Educating them about what we do is a major challenge. One article that might help:

Whether or not you buy my recommendations in that article, it's certainly true that you need to agree with your manager on how your productivity and your work will be measured. Leaving that decision entirely in the hands of someone who doesn't know what you do is a recipe for poor performance appraisals. Teaching them how difficult your job is and showing them how well you perform despite that difficulty is a surer way to succeed.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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The Problem With Keeping It Plain And Simple: From: Tony Markos

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