Re: How fast do I need to be able to write?

Subject: Re: How fast do I need to be able to write?
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 16:30:45 -0800

Michael Michalchik wrote:

> I say this not because I am a
> slow writer, I am actually pretty fast, but I do get writers block every so
> often, so my speed varies a lot.

I don't think there is an employer of technical writers who believes in the
concept of "writer's block." I think there are periods of greater and lesser
productivity, but over the life of a project, there is no particular period that
can be written off as "writer's block."

There is also no standard for productivity, but one measure is on p. 170 of Dr.
JoAnn Hackos' book Managing Your Documentation:

user guide 5 hrs/page
software app. ref. manual 4 hrs/page
hardware maint/trouble 8 hrs/page
classroom training 40 hrs/deliverable hr. of training
context sensitive help 4 hrs/topic of help information
comprehensive help 4 hrs/topic including hypertext links
CBT 60 hrs/finished hr. of training
videotaped instruction 30 hrs/finished minute of production time

You're probably thinking that technical writing is a lot like writing articles for
magazines, where you have to think up topics while you're writing the article.
Actually, most technical manuals start out with an outline and a fair amount of
source material (OK, OK, I know about the cases where there's little source info
or difficult SME's) so that you have some idea where you're going. What you
might be calling "writer's block" in this case is more a case of "I don' wanna!"
which is entirely a different thing.

Good luck!

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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