Can weak process harm a writer?

Subject: Can weak process harm a writer?
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 07:47:00 -0700

Responding to my original comments, Eric Ray wondered <<Taking this
one step further--can a bad process (bad in terms of overly
prescribed, unworkable, or impractical, as well as bad in terms of a
complete lack of process, resulting in flailing and floundering)
destroy a tech writer with potential?>>

Unquestionably, and I've seen it a few times over the past few years
(government, academe, and private industry). In at least on one case,
the writer basically stopped defending his writing against bad
revisions: "It'll get changed to the boss' version anyway, so why
raise a fuss, even though I'm right?" I've also occasionally fallen
into this trap when I've grown particularly discouraged, though this
really isn't acceptable for an editor.

<<I'm really thinking more of instilling bad habits...>>

If you're rewarded for following the corporate line efficiently and
penalized for doing things right (but crossing the line while doing
so), it's hard to see how you would avoid making this a bad habit.
When the context changes, you have to be adaptable enough to go back
to a more professional approach, but in the meantime...

<<I've found that adaptability is key to being a good tech writer,
and an *over*reliance on a specific process could prove a

One of the hardest things about being a writer or editor is the
recognition that "the client is always right". They _aren't_ always
right any more than we are, but if you want a satisfied customer who
will come back with more business, sometimes all you can do is
explain why you think their process is wrong, suggest an improvement,
and then grin and bear it when they ignore your advice. In the end,
all you can do is your best (i.e., do the best work they'll let you
do), and then insist that your name not be associated with the end
result if you're truly not pleased with it. If the situation is bad
enough, you can change jobs and not come back for more punishment.
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

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