Agile Experiment: Writing AGILE!

I am damn good at turning out 1000 words. What I wasn’t so sure I was good at was turning out more than 1000 words on a single subject. How was I going to do this in such a short time frame when I am holding a full time job and a half a dozen other commitments.

Strategy one: Set aside time in the evening that is sacred writing time. Do it in my personal office in silence, no visitors or pets allowed.

Strategy two: Put time in my calendar during the day for writing. Find a closed conference room and write.

Strategy three: just write whenever and wherever.

Here are my results.

Strategy one: The evening strategy bombed immediately. My energy is at its lowest in the evening. Also, I want to spend time hanging out with my wife even if its just noodling on my laptop while we eat dinner in the living room. Getting away to my office felt cold and while I could put words down during those times they were the most boring and drab things I could come up with. Threw that out right away.

Strategy two: Although it is completely legitimate to find a closed room to work in I wasn’t comfortable stealing time away from work to write—I’m there to do a job and not my own thing. Because I felt conflicted, I couldn’t get into the right frame of mind to write well. Also, seeing people scurrying around for a space to have a phone call or a private conversation didn’t feel right either. So scratch that.

Strategy three: believe it or not, you DON’T need a special room, time, silence or whatever to write. I used to think I needed a shower and a cup of coffee to be productive. This is also untrue—they were procrastination strategies I leveraged because I found writing in the isolation of my office unpleasant and unproductive. The book you are reading was written mostly on the bus going to work. Benefits are that I am at my most mentally clear in the morning and while there is sound and motion around me I am more or less in my own little world.

Also, I am able to pound out a few hundred words at a time sitting in the living room with my wife with my cat occupying half my lap. While this time isn’t as good as it is in the morning for creating it also does the job for getting thoughts down.

Take away: don’t assume that the rules most people believe or even you believe are true.