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Agile writing?

It’s kind of interesting that it’s so hard to stick to agile values. As I’m writing this, I’m trying to complete a huge report which I’m going to finish before the summer.

So, did I stick with an agile approach or did I go Waterfall? What do you think?

I started with setting the format templates: headings and text styles. Then I moved over to writing which headlines the document would hold. Then I started writing the first chapter, slowly progressing chapter by chapter. As is, the report is truly Work In Progress. Would I drop dead tomorrow, the first chapters are completed but the rest is just a bunch of headlines. The areas which I’ve covered can be read, but you would not get an overview of the complete subject.

But would it be more agile if I wrote something under each chapter? It would still be work in progress because then no part of the subject would have been completely covered and there would be huge room for misunderstanding under each chapter.

So, what is? Can you write using an agile approach and how do you do it? And would it bring any value?

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Categories: Agile
  1. 2010/06/11 at 7:53 pm

    I am writing using an agile approach through the Org Series plugin for WordPress. You can see it on my blog here, idratherbewriting.com. With this method, each post consists of a chapter in the book, more or less. Comments from readers inform my future direction and allow course correction. Chunking of content allows little releases and small iterations. And overall I have no idea what the end will be. 🙂 Overall it’s working.

  2. 2010/06/12 at 4:39 pm

    Interesting question! I’ll take a shot at this…

    I think that you can write using an agile approach, and I tend to enjoy my writing more when I do. (Although until you asked, I hadn’t considered that I was writing using an agile approach.)

    Your huge report is an epic. Your chapters/headlines represent your backlog of user stories. The templates, heading and text styles are design patterns and are part of the actual design/development (writing in this case). If you are writing in the agile sense, then you should write in vertical slices, delivering completed versions of your prioritized work. Consider this: perhaps the content of subsequent chapters will change as a result of your finishing an earlier chapter. You can adapt and re-prioritize the remaining work based on what you finish early on.

    Periodically you can add small snippets to the yet-to-be-started chapters as a backlog grooming exercise, where you are essentially breaking those feature-sized user stories into more finite, sprint-sized stories. However, the major concentration should be on the early chapters. Attempting to write across a wide spectrum of chapters without completely covering any one subject is a more traditional, waterfall approach where the complete work must be finished before any use or benefit can be derived. Completing single chapters provide some benefit early on, because the readers are able to read and understand those topics while they are waiting for the remaining chapters.

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