I started to write regularly some time ago and to be honest I treat it as a part of some goal and as a marketing tool – both for myself and the company I’m working for – Selleo. At Selleo we work according to agile methodologies and one of the principles of being agile is to be able to deliver something as fast as possible to get the client feedback and move forward with it.
Believe or not – working on a feature on weeks on end, even if your client wouldn’t mind is not healthy for you in the long run. You get bored, don’t deliver anything, there’s no motivation… it’s just like never-ending ‘projects’ in public administration – you do the same work all over again, year by year, being more and more frustrated.
I asked myself then why not try to use some agile doodad to be more efficient in writing? As far as can remember now, there’re at least a few things I try to stick to:
Timer / intervals
I’m trying to get into the habit to use 45-minute interval and at the very beginning pose a question: what is it possible to achieve in 45 minutes?
Two things to pay attention to:
- if you get into the flow, forget the time, just make use of that flow
- if you get bored, can’t focus, and you’re trying to rewrite the same paragraph
a few times in a row, stop writing (even if there’s still time left); Go for
a walk, do something different: prepare a dinner, write code, whatever
We’re not robots so don’t force yourself to writing. We’re all have bad days, so don’t fret about feeling ‘not good enough’ or ‘stupid’. Follow your gut and try in an hour, a day, or even a week.
Try to treat a timer as your ally, not enemy. Otherwise, as Parkinson’s law states: if a lady in a post office had 8 hours to prepare an envelope to send, it could, indeed, take 8 hours. Without some limits and dissecting it into simple chunks all tasks, challenges become anamorphic, scary and blurry elephants that can’t be done.
Get a proof-reader, a mentor
Try not to be perfect. My English is not perfect and will never be. All my articles in Polish that were not reviewed by a proof-reader had bad parts. Well… that’s normal. With Agnieszka that has been reviewing my articles I did huge step forward with my writing. Surprisingly the meetings were no longer than 20 minutes.
Every company needs some marketing stuff, in IT ones there is a tendency, especially for remote companies, to show the clients you’re working for, that you’re not faceless avatars without emotions (forget my photo ;) but human beings that have many passions unrelated to technical skills. It pays off – our team page is very popular and our clients like it!
Writing for your company will not only help it to reach more clients, but you get precious feedback and fun along the way. Treat writing as a creative activity to help you be a better person.
Short publication cycle – write – get feedback – apply
Having menor and some intervals you’re on the right track to start writing as if you were writing some code. I’ll repeat it again: don’t try to be perfect, don’t try to write a masterpiece. What you get is not a result, but frustration and wasted hours. Writing text and writing code there’s always an urge to write “perfect” text / code. There’s no such a thing like perfect line / code and there’s no project that has some end – everything is fluid and changeable. Imperfection is human so don’t try to change it. ;)
That’s it for now, though there’s more topic I wanted to cover like: using Vim to be efficient for example. Maybe next time.