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Free Your Inner Writer: 6 Tips to Use Agile and Lean Approaches to Write Fast and Well - RTP

Free Your Inner Writer: 6 Tips to Use Agile and Lean Approaches to Write Fast and Well - RTP

We know that agility works for product development. Can we make agility work for personal work, such as writing? Yes, we can. However, writing agility differs from product development agility. In this session, Johanna Rothman will introduce you to her agile approaches to write fast and well:

1. Timebox your writing, so you write something every day to build and maintain your momentum.
2. Scope box your writing, so you don’t write “all” of it, but make progress on something useful.
3. Finish something as often as possible. (I aim to finish something at least three times a week. Often, more.)
4. Cycle to iterate on the ideas. (Similar to refactoring.)
5. Decide who your ideal reader is and write for that reader.
6. Set the context for that reader with a story.
7. Wait to edit until you’re all done writing down.

Please join us, and with any luck, we’ll do a little writing.

Johanna Rothman

May 09, 2022

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  1. Free Your Inner Non fi ction Writer: 6 Agile &

    Lean Tips to Write Fast and Well Johanna Rothman @johannarothman www.jrothman.com
  2. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman You Open a New Document

    … • The blank page stares back at you, daring you to write anything at all • Who are you to write this? • All your ideas crowd into your head and you’re sure you’re incoherent and you might be wrong and people will judge you and … • Your 6th grade teacher is also in your head telling you you’re a terrible writer 2
  3. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman You Have Expertise • You

    have your experience and expertise • Non fi ction writers think and learn as they write • You’re synthesizing ideas, not just analyzing them • Writers iterate as they think and learn 3
  4. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Reframe How You Think About

    Writing 4
  5. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Writing Creates a Product •

    Effective product development approaches work for our writing • Start small • Build up from one idea to an entire piece • Refactor as you proceed (cycle/ iterate) • Final testing (edit) at the end 5
  6. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Writing Creates NEW Words •

    WRITING CREATES NEW WORDS • Move your fi ngers across a keyboard • Move your pen across the page • Record and then transcribe • Editing rarely creates new words 6
  7. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Six Agile & Lean Tips

    1. Short timeboxes to build momentum 2. Scope-box what you write 3. Finish often (& publish) 4. Cycle to iterate on the ideas 5. Write for one ideal reader 6. Set the context with a story 7. Wait to edit until you’re done 7
  8. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Tip 1: Timebox Your Writing

    • Try a 15-minute timebox every single day • Create your writing habit • Build your momentum 8
  9. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Tip 2: Scope-Box Your Writing

    • Can you write it “all” in one 15- minute timebox? • Or, have enough time to write it all? • Very few of us can • What’s one thing you can do to fi nish something for now? • You do not have to produce an MVP in 15 minutes 9
  10. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Tip 3: Finish Often (&

    Publish) • Write and Publish • Write and Publish (yes, I duplicated this on purpose) • “Say No to more WIP” • Murphy’s Law • Hofstadter's Law • Little’s Law (the longer things take, the longer they take) • WIP is not the same as an idea bank 10
  11. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Tip 4: Cycle to Iterate

    Between Writing and Ideas • Write a little • Think as you write • Use that thinking to cycle back 200-400 words • Reread and clarify • WAIT to edit until the end 11
  12. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman How to Tell If You’re

    Editing or Writing • Writing and cycling stay at the idea level • Cycling refactors ideas • Editing is at the word level • Editing refactors words, sentences, and paragraphs 12
  13. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Tip 5: Write for One

    Ideal Reader • Who are you trying to reach? • Who is not your reader? • What do each of those people need? • “As a user” is the same as “I write for everyone.” 13
  14. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Tip 6: Set the Context

    with a Story • Context invites your ideal reader into the piece • At the end, remind your reader of the start • Anecdote or example • One Startling Sentence • Hey! You! See! So… • Answers Why and What Matters to the ideal reader 14
  15. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Practice • I will timebox

    each of these. If you fi nish early, please use the thumb up reaction: • Choose an ideal reader (1 minute) • Decide what you want to explain to that reader (1 minute) • Write down (2-5 minutes, depending on our time) • We’ll debrief together 15
  16. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Tip 7: Wait to Edit

    Until You Finish • Editing too early interrupts your thinking and learning • Why would you “perfect” something that’s not done? • Interruptions creates WIP problems: • Murphy’s Law • Hofstadter’s Law • Little’s Law • Everything takes longer 16
  17. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman My Writing Process (Not Much

    Advance Planning) 17
  18. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Reset Your Writing Rules •

    Wait until you’re completely done writing to edit • Avoid outlining—use story structure instead • As you write, you will think and learn • That learning informs the next bit of writing • Keep an idea bank/ fi eldstones so you never start with a blank page 18
  19. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman The Myth of the “Natural”

    Writer • No one is a “natural” writer • We need to practice to tell the stories our ideal readers need to hear • Watch for your fears and keep practicing • The more you write and publish, the more successful you will be 19
  20. © 2022 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Let’s Stay in Touch •

    Pragmatic Manager: • www.jrothman.com/pragmaticmanager • Please link with me on LinkedIn • Writing workshop: https:// www.jrothman.com/freeinnerwriter • Free Your Inner Writer is exclusive to https://storybundle.com/writing • The book will be available “everywhere” late May as an ebook. I’m sure the print book will take longer. 20