I have been retired for over six years, and quite frankly, I don’t miss working at all. Take the jobs I held during my working life; mostly as a technical writer. Long story short, what a technical writer does is to create an instruction manual for a product so that the buyer can easily see how it works. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, mostly it isn’t. In my case, I had to dig out information from the very busy folks that made or worked on the item I had to write about.
These people are the ones who engineer the product, and all that goes with it. They are always under the gun to get the product out fast and get ahead of the other companies. The faster a product is out in front of the competition, the better it is for the company. So any time they had to spend answering my questions was time lost for them. So I did what I could to get the info I needed—I resorted to out and out bribery.
I would find out what each engineer/product manager/high muckety-muck liked; coffee, candy bars, doughnuts, cookies, hot chocolate and so on. It made it a lot easier for me to get the information that I needed to write a good “how to” manual—I unabashedly bribed them all. Trust me, it was worth it to get the straight story I needed to get my work done.
Generally in a company, a technical writer is pretty low on the totem pole, but having a good “how-to guide” is not only mandatory, but essential. In any company, there is always the one person who knows everything and doesn’t leave notes on what he/she knows before he/she leaves the company. That’s the person a tech writer has to buttonhole to get all the information needed in a “how-to guide.”
So there it is; the real secret to getting the information for a really good “how-to guide;” out and out bribery. I can’t say I’m proud of it, but in a job you do what you have to do. This is all that I don’t miss about working!