Writing is Agile

Last night I met a new fascinating person and the topic turned to writing and representation. Those who know me know that I agonize frequently about this issue and the hopelessness of ever being able to get things right, especially when writing about people in the distant past. I worry too much about offending people and it leads me into paralysis too often.

I told him what I’d learned from Mary Robinette Kowal: (Do your research, use sensitivity readers, and always be prepared to make things better. Be humble in your ignorance.) And Eric Flint: (You will always offend someone. Do your best and then don’t worry about it. You’ll find your readers and the rest will ignore you.)

Then I tried to translate what I’d learned into my own personal project management language. Writing is Agile, I told my new friend.

With a start, I realized that this was absolutely true. In Agile project management the goal is rapid delivery and iterative processing to make things better. You accept that your first iteration will be just barely good enough, but certainly not perfect.

You deliver it anyway.

Then you work to make the next iteration better than the previous, getting feedback from the end users (in this case, readers). You can also get feedback as you go from sensitivity readers, editors, and experts. But the point is not to get the perfect amount of feedback to create the perfect product or perfect story. That way lies madness. The point is to deliver something that is the best you can do at that point in time.

Then do it again. Better the next time.

Writing is Agile.

I hope your writing, art, programming, and crafts are all going well and that you are delivering to delighted fans. Be well, friends!

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