This question relates to my earlier question Habits and routines for my first tech writing job which I was told to split into two parts.
My first technical writing / translation gig starts soon. A Japanese company has offered me a gig helping translate an Android business application + documentation into English. Their staff will do a rough translation, and I will polish it into something reasonably professional.
The client has a clear idea of how long the job will take me, and wants me to spend a fixed number of hours working in their office. I have no way of knowing whether the client’s estimate is realistic.
I need to start making my own estimates as early as possible but, if my computer programming experience is anything to go by, I’m the worst person to do that. If you ask a novice programmer, “How long will it take you to do Job A?” he answers, “A day.” If you break Job A down into sub-jobs and ask, “How long to do A1, A2, ... A10?” he answers, “A week.” If you hold him to that, he burns out in a month.
How do I estimate how long the job will take? How do I avoid the trap of overpromising out of an abundance of enthusiasm and a desire to please the client?