Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tag team

I am usually capable of translating fairly technical concepts into language a non-technical audience can understand. I've written training manuals for sophisticated software programs, and guides for navigating tedious web sites. But I'm not so great at technical writing when you throw math of any sort into the mix. This shortcoming has recently resulted in my first experience with co-writing.

The results of the medication adherence study for which I created a PowerPoint presentation are now being expanded into a full report. I am writing the bulk of the report, but there is a section dealing with statistical analysis that is completely beyond me. I understand the concepts of it well enough, but when I try to write about it, it just sounds wrong. In fact, that section sounds so different from the rest of the report that one editor commented on the change in tone.

So my client got me some help. The technical writer really knows her stuff, but we are struggling to find a way to work together. She isn't familiar with the topic, so there is a learning curve to overcome. We're both used to working alone, and there's a little bit of discomfort as we learn about each other's methods. It just feels . . . clunky. I know we'll figure it out, but right now we just seem to keep getting in each other's way.

Has anybody else had this experience when sharing some sort of project with another person? How did you overcome the bumps?


Lori said...

In my opinion, your partner should be asking you pointed questions about the topic so she understands the subject. To some extent it's up to you, but I think she needs to be proactive, too. (Is she?)

State very directly what you need from her. Have her do the same. Sounds like you're dancing around each other at this point instead of trying to dance together.

Does that help?

Angie Ledbetter said...

Have done lots of joint projects, but with people I already knew. Maybe a general goals outline with a division of labor and expectations would help get you on the same page?

Amie said...

Thanks, both of you, for the food for thought. I will keep all of this in mind for future co-writing episodes (this one was very last minute and very brief--it was over before I had a chance to implement any suggestions!).