Re: Down Time

Subject: Re: Down Time
From: Tom Johnson <johnsont -at- FREEWAY -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 1998 12:54:06 -0500


There are lots of things you can do. First of all, I would sit down and
do some planning. Make lists of every task you will need to do for the
project. Start out by outlining. Figure out which ones can be done
early. Try to identify problems, which is what you're attempting, that's

Here are some ideas:

- Identify which software package you will use to edit images.

- Build and test prototypes for your help screens.

- If you have an idea of how the software will work, start working on
how you will structure your help files.

- Talk to the programmers or read the program specs to learn what you
can about the software.

- If you will be outsourcing anything (translation, localization), start
researching potential vendors.

- Work towards establishing a good review cycle with subject matter
experts. From the sounds of things, you won't have time to do this after
the project starts.

- Set milestones for yourself to help you measure your progress.

- Remember, the better you can plan, the more efficient you will be when
crunch time comes.

Hope this helps,


Vic wrote:
> Maybe some tech writers don't have the luxury of a lot of down time, but
> I do.
> Here's the issue: What would you do to prepare for the task of creating
> online help for an application that has yet to be created?

> What else can I do? Specifically, what have you learned from creating
> online help systems in a crunch that has made you say, "Gee, if I only
> would have had more time to prepare, this online help would have been so
> much better." What things would you do to prepare to make online help
> better? I have the luxury of preparing, even over-preparing if I want.
> I guess the larger issue here is "What do you do during down time?"
> I want to be productive, and sharpen my skills. I do not want to be
> tempted to just surf the web all day doing "research," or write email...

Tom Johnson
Technical Writer
Elk Rapids Engineering - A Division of Star Cutter Company

business mailto:johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com
personal mailto:tjohnson -at- grandtraverse -dot- com
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
My opinions are still my own.

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