I have not yet written the third part of my “Writing Fiction with Agile” series, and may not for another week. I’ve chosen a tool and will likely use it to illustrate the principles I spoke of in parts one and two; however, I’m hoping to find a tool that I can better tune to my needs. I’ve evaluated three software solutions so far, but all have proven less apt than the original.
As far as writing my novel is going, I am happy to report success! I was able to get into the “writing zone” this weekend and spent 6 hours writing about 5,000 words. I am almost done with chapter 1; it will obviously need some rework and editing, but I am very pleased with the overall structure and content.
The big question is, has Agile helped me? I spent part of my first sprint putting my ideas into my selected software tool (Pivotal Tracker), estimating the time of each task, and prioritizing the work. I’ve noticed some benefits already:
- I had an idea of what I wanted to do with chapter 1, but it was incomplete. By breaking my work down into smaller tasks, I was able to identify another, previously unrelated, scene that fit well here. With a little rework I was able to use it to completely flesh out the chapter. I might have never noticed this connection otherwise.
- By breaking out small, non-writing tasks as chores, I was able to take the time to focus on them and get them done. There were three main characters and I had not decided on a name for any of them. I set up a task to find a name for each, and with 20-30 minutes of focused effort on each, I was able to come up with names that are meaningful and I’m pleased with.
- By prioritizing my stories, I found I was able to focus better on the task at hand. There are scenes that I am excited to write; I’d often find that I’d flit from one scene to another as I was thinking through the story, preventing me from focusing on getting one single task done. After prioritizing I found it easy to make myself think about completion of the immediate goal and put those other scenes on the back burner.
All in all, I’d say that Agile methodologies have been valuable. The goal is to get my writing done, and as long as they encourage and motivate me to do that, I will stick with them.