Summary: supervising a new tech. writer

Subject: Summary: supervising a new tech. writer
From: Michele Marques <mmarques -at- USA -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 13:03:39 EDT

First, I would like to thank all of you who gave me advice, both on and off
the list. Many of you had overlapping or similar advice, so I am not crediting
specific tips within this message, but overall credits are listed at the end
of the message.

I have been advised to give lots of training and hand-holding. Although,
this might seem a bit much for a "summer" employee, the student may be back
next summer (last summer the student assisted me with updating screen captures
in printed documentation). "Hand-holding" includes frequently meeting with my
assistant and helping with difficulties
(or anticipated difficulties).

Most of you advised breaking down the task into very small manageable chunks
and gave some suggestions. Although I was initially going to throw the novice
at the programmer (this project was his idea in an attempt to get his program
documented sooner than my time would permit), I have provided an intial
assignment of very specific (and limited) features to research. After I get
back the initial results, I will be able to provide further direction. This
will also give me a writing sample from a less intimidating environment.

Some of you have suggested using the student as an assistant for copy-editing
or other tasks. Due to the politics, I don't think this is feasible. Thanks to
your suggestions, I have ideas for making achieving at least some useful
results. And if things really work out well, maybe next summer I will get to
supervise a budding technical writer.

For those seeking more information, the June issue of "Intercom" (which
arrived here today!) includes a useful article by Eric Olive on selecting and
supervising a novice technical writer.

Credits: Rowena (I apologize, but my printout doesn't include mail headers and
I don't remember your last name), Geoff Hart, Ginger Moskowitz, Marilynne
Smith, Rebecca Merck and Lane Pasut. I apologize to anyone I inadvertantly

- Michele Marques
mmarques -at- usa -dot- net

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