Re: Who dreams up these things?

Subject: Re: Who dreams up these things?
From: "Peter Lucas" <peterlucas -at- mediaone -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 12:11:45 -0700

C'mon Andrew, everyone knows you are supposed to perform the "Jam a pencil
in my ear" step BEFORE the "Pet the cat" step. Several process methodology
efficiency workflow studies have shown that petting the cat after jamming
the pencil in your year increases productivity by 1.2% because the emotional
release you get from petting the cat helps distract you from the blood
streaming from your ear and allows you to quickly get to the "soup step."

How long have you been a tech writer? Geez...

On a more serious note, I'm the lone tech writer at a very small company,
and I've managed to do pretty well over the last five years in terms of
getting manuals and online help created and delivered in a timely manner.
The only thing I can attribute this to is the fact I'm the MAN, the ONLY
tech writer, and if I don't work my butt off--I'm outta here! I have no
complaints, however, about this "process."

When I first started working here, my boss handed me this "bible" called
Managing Your Documentation Projects by JoAnn T. Hackos. (I've seen it
referred to many times on the Techwr-L list.) I read about five pages, fell
asleep, slipped out of my chair, and slammed my head on the desk. The
resulting concussion caused me to miss several days of work, which really
took a bite out of my productivity. As I recovered from my injury, I
couldn't help but think, "Man, I'm glad I don't work somewhere where they
use the Hackos method. When do they find time to actually work? Seems like
there's WAY too much time analyzing graphs, tracking milestones, etc." And
three pages per day is a productive day? Some of our manuals are 600 pages.
Yeah, my boss might let me work here if I finished that manual in 200 days.

Currently, the Hackos "bible" rests quietly under a bag of Cheese-Its in the
bottom drawer of my desk. The weight of the thing makes the drawer slide
back and forth ever so smoothly . . .

Peter Lucas

> > I think you went fishing again and caught few. Who are you trying to
> > when you say, "Can't you just write the manual? I mean - how frickin'
> > is it to write a manual. I'm a moron and I do it all the time." Are
> > trying to tell us you don't use any kind of process when you write a
> > I think not. You wouldn't be where you are today owning your own
> > if you weren't using a well planned and tested process for doing your
> > So, what is it? Are you willing to tell us?
> When I write a manual here is what I do:
> Fiddle with the product.
> Blab with the engineers.
> Read materials from similar products.
> Wander around thinking.
> Pet the cat
> Jam a pencil in my ear.
> Eat some Bean with Bacon soup.
> Plant my ass in a chair.
> Bang out a doc.
> Curse at FrameMaker.
> File | Print
> Submit it for review.
> Wash the car.

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