What do you write?

Short answer: Nonfiction. 
Slightly longer answer: Instructional materials.
Really long answer: Below.

When people ask me what I do, I am never sure how to respond. Besides my present work — teaching teachers to teach writing —  I always had to do whatever jobs I happened to come across that either:

  1. paid well, or
  2. gave me a chance to learn something.

Unfortunately, I'm rarely offered an option 1 job.

Sometimes  I take an option 2 job from which I learn that I absolutely hate the job, but that happens less often than you might think.  What usually happens in option 2 jobs is that I find the job needs just a little fine tuning to turn it into a good job.  

The problem is often the supervisor.

I've found with dismaying frequency that supervisors who know a job thoroughly often:

  • neglect to supply information entry-level workers require, and
  • provide too much information entry-level workers don't need

Ever since I spotted the problem, I've made a business of writing entry-level instructions,  including procedures for teaching teachers to teach writing.

do technical translations.

I figure out how it should work, fill the gaps & cut the fluff

I do the entry level job. While I'm doing it, I pay attention to what happens before I do my job and what happens afterward. I find spots where some information the entry-level person needs is missing and plug those gaps.  I also analyze procedures to find bloat that keeps the system from working efficiently and effectively.  

Paying attention to what's happening is systems analysis work: Virtually every business needs it, but few are willing to pay for it.

Once the analytical work is done, I prepare some instructions and/or tools that I wish someone had prepared before I took the job.  I might prepare a chart, write directions, create a form, develop a spreadsheet — whatever I think the next person in the job would find handy to have their first week.

I do technical translations.

Businesses often already have materials that someone with technical expertise prepared. In settings such as healthcare, engineering, and

I design communications.

My readers have to use my material as well as read it, so I format it for the users' convenience.  Often that information design aspect means doing simple things like putting items in lists or using call-out boxes to explain terms that have a special meaning in the particular context.

Other times, I need to design or redesign material provided by subject matter experts so it  is easier to use and looks easier to use.  When a subject is hard, you don't want to make it any harder by a confusing layout or lengthy paragraphs of type.

I don't always work with material provided by subject matter experts.

Sometimes I am the subject matter expert.

I hold seven registered copyrights to digital products on about teaching nonfiction writing to teens and adults.  I write for print and the web about education, small business, marketing, entrepreneurship,  rural life, and bestselling vintage novels.

In five years, I built a website with over 400 pages, doing all the writing, design, and illustrations myself. When I closed You-Can-Teach-Writing in 2013, its traffic positioned it in the top 5 percent of the world's five million websites.

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