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> To be honest, I did back up my productivity guestimates now and again by
> very carefully counting each page and the level of effort for each page.
> That way I could check and see how well I had estimated the work. For the
> record, I was pretty close, but the page counts usually were higher than the
> My boss was ignorant of my methods, but happy with the result.
In what I regard as the "purest" of tech writing environments, that of writing
books from a standing start at home for book publishers located elsewhere in
the country, I could demonstrate that, so long as the parameters didn't change
midstream, I could produce a 300 page book in two months. This was something
I could demonstrate over the course of having written or coauthored 31 books
for publishers like Bantam, Sybex, etc. The problem with using that as a
benchmark is that, these days, there's no "pure" writing environment, not even
with publishers. The biggest problems is those-who-review changing their
minds midstream as to audience, scope, approach, or something else that's
basic. And writing to a moving target like that is naturally going to make
the task tougher for those-who-write, although those-who-review aren't likely
to factor that in when they're doing productivity measurements.
I still believe that the two greatest problems with productivity measures are
reflected in two of my tech-writer aphorisms:
1. "Write something; I'll tell you whether I like it." And of course, do it on
a fixed budget and fixed schedule. Yeah, right.
2. "Oh shit! I forgot to tell you!" I have this in initials-only format as
part of the logo on a limited-edition set of commemorative mugs I had done for
my team members after a particular difficult project. (The logo is of a
merry-go-round, with the initials RTFM forming the top and OSIFTTY as the