TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Number of Projects From:Bonni Graham <bonnig -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 22 Sep 1995 11:33:02 -0700
Gordon Lundy wrote:
>The company that I am working for has me "loaded" up with 5 large
> orginal-writing projects,
>So, maybe you could tell me what you think is appropriate or typical. Thanks,
I think you're overworked, too. This is where those Gantt charts we've been
discussing (some with revulsion) come into their own.
I was in a similar situation about four years ago. I was the sole writer for
three families of software, each with five to seven modules, each with their own
development staff (except for writing), each due w/in about a week of each
One project was run by a outside "motivational" consultant (who supposedly
specialized in getting late software projects out the door), the other two by
a single in-house product development manager. I went to the in-house guy,
him a set of Gantt charts (that took me about an hour to do in an old version of
TimeLine - UGH), and got one of his deadlines moved. He could do nothing about
the other; it had been promised to customers.
So I toddled over to the consultant's office to show him the stuff, since he had
what could be a movable deadline. His response?
"All of the pressure in a development cycle comes at the end, where
usually takes place. If you can't handle that pressure, I suggest you find
Not being one to take this kind of sh*t meekly, I flashed back, "Most of the
pressure in management comes from having to allocate your resources effectively.
If you can't handle that, maybe YOU should find another career." I went straight
to the CEO's office (it was a fairly small company), reported the conversation,
and let him know that he would be receiving my resignation that afternoon if
something didn't change. The deadline was moved (more I think because any
technical writer, even with attitude, was better than shipping the s/w to
librarians w/o doc than because I was so "powerful").
Point being, you can't do a good job if you're overloaded, so fair to you and
fair to the company is often exactly the same thing. If you're feeling
and put-upon, and you consider yourself to be an honest and hard-working person
regularly, you probably ARE overworked.
Estimate how long you feel you need to complete each book, braid those estimates
together (by weaving in work on one while you're waiting for new information or
reviews on another to return) and come up with a set of end dates that allow you
to do a quality job w/o working 80-hour workweeks. That's pretty fair, and
appropriate, IMO (I'm not even going to try to CLAIM to be humble<g>).
bonnig -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com