Re: newbie needs advice

Subject: Re: newbie needs advice
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 1997 17:14:31 +0800

1. You should already know about STC's SIGs (Special Interest Groups).
If you're not already a member, sign up for everything remotely
connected to your work or your interests. In particular, there's a
'Lone Writer' SIG that should be useful.

2. When I started (ex-programmer) I found a book called "Writing Better
Computer User Documentation", by John Brockmann. It's probably a bit
long in the tooth now (published 1990), but at the time it was a
godsend. I believe that, for beginners, one book that whizzes over
everything is better than ten specialist books. Perhaps other people
could recommend a more up-to-date book. There's one by Edmund Weiss
that I've heard good things about, for example.

3. Speaking of lone writers, I have a paper called "The Lone Writer". It
was written by a very nice lady called Bonni Graham, based on a talk
she gave at an STC conference a few years ago. Bonni doesn't seem to
hang out on the list any more, which is a shame. If I can get hold of
her I'll see if she minds posting a copy on the TECHWR-L FAQ.

4. Get "Managing Your Documentation Projects", by JoAnn Hackos. A must.

5. Someone on the list maintains a "newbie file", which I hear is very
useful. I forget who wrote it (Candace Bamber?) but I'm sure you'll
find references to it in the archives for the last few weeks.

6. Get involved with the development process at your company. Review the
specs, be part of the design team, befriend the testers, help edit
the marketing material. If you're trying to do the docs in a couple
of weeks between the product freeze and the formal release, you're
just bandaging the corpse.

Good luck! Technical writing is the best job in the world.

Stuart Burnfield
Functional Software Pty Ltd
mailto:slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au

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