How agile-inspired deadlines and frequent check-ins can do wonders for the writing process
They may seem entirely different, but applying a little bit of software development strategy to your writing could do wonders for your NaNoWriMo novel, or any writing project for that matter.
When it comes to software development, you’ll likely hear about Agile. It’s an approach that takes a highly adaptive route of executing projects and products with a cross-functional team. For both engineering and non-engineering tasks, much of the work we do at Evernote occurs in agile-style sprints, blocks of time where work chunks are delineated and responsibilities assigned.
If the amount of work is right, the sprint should feel a little bit like NaNoWriMo: intensive but achievable. Writing under this format has a few potentially surprising insights into the writing process:
Deadlines unlock creativity
A writer’s natural tendency might be to avoid showing work until it’s “done,” but the fast pace of the sprint offers no such luxury. The pressure of the daily standup meeting means there’s no time to lollygag or second guess on direction. What comes out ends up being raw and, often, great.
And when it’s not great, your sprint team is there to let you know. Most people won’t have easy access to a sprint team, so find a friend, significant other, or writing circle whose feedback you trust. One quickly learns to view their critique not as personal attacks, but opportunities to soundboard your ideas and test direction. Being able to frequently measure reaction is a boon to any writer.
When changing course, do so quickly
When direction does need to change, it’s easier to do so as a series of mini pivots rather than large, costly switchbacks. The frequent check-ins will ensure that you never get too far down the wrong path.
After all, the muses prefer a little bit of pressure (paired, perhaps, with a bit of caffeine), so appease them by applying these principles to your own writing and watch the words flow and sentences sharpen.