RE: Experience required for contracting / Staying current

Subject: RE: Experience required for contracting / Staying current
From: "Murrell, Thomas" <TMurrell -at- alldata -dot- net>
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 15:28:41 -0400

Anonymous Poster asks several interesting questions:

> I have almost two years of technical writing experience. I have written
> several hardware and software manuals and have done extensive editing
> throughout my career. I want to eventually go into contract writing. Is
> two years of experience enough? What type of things do employers look for
> when hiring contractors? Is it hard to keep current on technology when
> you change jobs so frequently?
> Any advice will be appreciated.
I'm sure that experiences vary, so you might consult with someone familiar
with your local working environment, but around here it seems that almost
everyone starts out in contract writing, by which I mean is a contract
writer. At some point, circumstances, and probably a comfortable fit,
conspire for the contract TW to be offered a permanent position with some

In my experience it is not harder, and might even be easier, to keep current
on technology as a contract writer. Moving from place to place and job to
job allows one to quickly build a resume that includes just about everything
out there that a TW might use, or at least it seems that way. Pretty soon
the resume is fat with systems one has worked on, software one has used
(even if only in passing), and methodologies current in the geographical

Ninety percent of the challenge you face can be summed up in the question,
"Are you the type of person to run your own business?" Lots of people are
not. Even if you are going to be a one writer shop, you have to keep books
so the IRS won't arrest you, market yourself so the business will keep
coming in, write the documentation contracted for on time and within budget
and or high quality (or you don't eat...a lot), and get the training you
need for future work.

While all of this sounds daunting, it is no more so that the task facing any
professional. It takes planning, discipline, and, yes, some luck. The
question is, to paraphrase Dirty Harry, "Do you feel lucky?" (I'll assume
you're not a punk, okay?)

Tom Murrell
Senior Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
800 Techcenter Drive
Gahanna, OH 43230
Phone: (614)729-4364
Fax: (614)729-4499
mailto:tmurrell -at- alldata -dot- net

> ----------
> From: Anonymous Poster[SMTP:anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com]
> Reply To: Anonymous Poster
> Sent: Monday, October 11, 1999 3:09 PM
> Subject: FWD: Experience required for contracting / Staying current
> Hello,

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