Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm going to try to make you understand

I'm a tech writer. A lot of you don't get how I could possibly do this all day, 40 hours a week, for the rest of my life. But here's my attempt to make you understand.

How Tech Writing Is Like a Puzzle

I don't know how some of you do puzzles, but here's how I do one. First, I sort through all the pieces and pick out anything that forms the edge of the puzzle. The edge has to go together first.

Once that's done, I dig through the remaining pieces to find the pieces that form the large portions of the puzzle. You know, if it's a landscape with a lighthouse, you put the lighthouse together first and try to forget that half of the puzzle is sky!

Once anything that forms the easily put together portions is done, then you have to begin sorting through all that sky and putting it in piles based on minute variances in shading. Only then can you put the sky together.

The final step is putting the sealer on the puzzle and hanging it.

I put a manual together the same way.

First I find another manual that resembles what I'm trying to create. That's the edge. Then I sort through the information I have and fill in any major illustrations or instructions that need to be replaced. That part is the lighthouse. Once that's done, I have to tackle the tough part of the manual...all the information that I need to chase after people and sit on them to get. That and editing are the sky. The final step of a manual is printing to PDF and uploading it to our system. That would be the sealer. Actually seeing it on the system is like looking at it hanging on the wall.
Does that explain it?

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