My first cut at organizing the content did not go as well as I’d hoped. As I feared, some sections had too much content, others practically none. So I’m trying a different approach and am getting a better distribution of content. Progress!
In my last attempt to organize the content, I was just going through the different parts of the job cycle, from choosing a career to hunting for a job, doing the job, leaving a job, and hunting for the next job. This flow wasn’t working because, as my buddy discovered, there was practically no content in a couple of those buckets.
Instead, I decided to borrow a page from my own blog and sort out my content the way I take on a new job or customer: the four Ps…
All of these factors affect how the technical communicator does his or her work. However, given all the emphasis I put here on attitude and behavior, I added a fifth item:
This section covers both behaviors that help make life in the workplace smoother; it also addresses the care and feeding of the self. Items 1-4 are the context within which you work and are beyond your control, for the most part. Section 5 covers the things you can do to make your life at and outside work happier and more productive.
New structure, revisited
This five-part layout satisfied me with regard to structure, but the lengths were still off. Politics didn’t have much, and since politics are mostly the result of how people interact, I combined the two to make a new flow:
- People & Politics
Problem solved, right? Not so fast. Now that I had my buckets in order, I started writing introductions to explain what will be found in each section. However, as I wrote those little intros, the content wasn’t flowing properly. I didn’t like putting process first, for example, so I have settled on the following progression:
- Product (what you are writing about)
- People & Politics (who you are writing with and for)
- Process (how you will actually write)
- Professionalism (how you will handle yourself in the midst of all of the above)
This could change again. Beneath each of those sections, I have multiple chapters addressing subtopics. Those, too, will undergo reclassifying, reorganizing, and perhaps even removal. Still, progress is being made!
I can relate to each of the four sections. I think you’re on to something! Have you thought about tools? I know they change quickly, but technical writers are first judged by their skillset (when looking for a job).
Good point! Here’s one blog I wrote on the subject from 2011…it’s not too outdated (yet). https://heroictechwriting.com/2011/11/03/what-you-need-to-know-to-do-your-job-tech-skills/
Well done! Thanks!