Re: Researching your Subject

Subject: Re: Researching your Subject
From: "Molly M. Theodossy" <mmtheodossy -at- UCDAVIS -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 14:18:19 -0800

At 03:03 PM 12/21/98 -0500, Gil Yaker wrote:

>Let me bring this message full circle, and know that I want input from
>those of you with more experience than me. So here I am at my job, bored to
>tears. I've sat idle for the past two weeks doing nothing. Why? Well it
>seems that usually I finish early such that I'm waiting for the parts of
>the development team to get their job finished. There are probably a number
>of reasons for this, but what I can say for sure is that this circumstance
>has been a constant in my relatively few years of work. Do all tech writers
>sit around and twiddle their thumbs? I was promised a demanding workload at
>both of the interviews for the permanent jobs I've had, and never has this
>promise been fulfilled.

You are not the only one to have experienced this frustration. I also
dislike the time between projects when there is little to do. I believe it
is inevitable in this field. No matter how well you try to manage the
projects and balance your workload, I think there are occasions when this
happens anyway.

>And one last peripheral question (for now). Buried within the above is my
>feeling that if I had something more technical to write about, I'd be
>happier. But, who gets to write the REALLY technical manuals? I spoke with
>one recruiter from an engineering firm who said there's a field called ILS,
>integrated logistics systems (or services, not sure what the S stands for),
>that might encompass the more technical spec-oriented work. Or let me put
>it this way. Who gets to write the volumes of manuals on say how a computer
>microprocessor works and all the associated specs? Is there any way in hell
>they'd let someone without a formal technical background author those
>manuals? Or is it usually some engineer who gets by his
>or her manager to write the docs?

I think it depends on the company you work for. I worked for a small
software company for a while where I was the tech writer who wrote the more
technical of their manuals. Just so you know, my education is in graphic
design and communication, and my professional expertise is in training. I
am not sure why I was chosen to write those manuals, but when it was clear
that I could understand the partially written control specs and was able to
communicate well with the programmers, I was assigned the technical manuals
while my colleagues worked on the end-user and the training manuals. If
your current company has any of this type of work to do, you should express
the interest to your manager.

Molly M. Theodossy
Technology Trainer/Technical Writer
mmtheodossy -at- ucdavis -dot- edu
(530) 754-2113
University of California, Davis

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