When I started my working life as a Kent State University School of Journalism graduate many years ago, I had no idea I’d switch careers in mid-stream. After being a reporter and editor for 14 years, I became increasingly interested in computer technology.
Early on, I provided technical support at the newspaper. I supported electronic editorial workflows from the PCs the reporters wrote on through the Macs where ads were built, and all the way to the typesetters that produced newspaper pages on full-size Velox . I helped develop processes for maintaining the graphics database for advertising artwork on Unix servers and looked after peripherals like scanners, optical disks and printers. Along the way, I learned to code. Web design seemed natural. After all, HTML isn’t so different from the SGML we used to paginate the newspaper.
Eventually, there came a turning point: I’d have to leave the newspaper if I wanted to keep up on my mortgage payments. That was twenty years ago. In retrospect, seeing what has happened to print media since I left, it proved to be a good decision.
Zip forward to present day. Within the past year in my day job, management has seen fit to educate its developers in the principles and practices of Agile development, and more specifically, Scrum.
I call this my “day job,” because in my heart, I am still that writer who graduated from college wanting to be a rock journalist.
I achieved that dream, and have many musical artist interviews listed in my writing credits. I have also written two novels, Rings of Passage and Dangerous Reflections, both time travel fantasy romances. The latter was named as a finalist in the fantasy category in the 2015 National Indie Excellence Awards.
Those novels came together slowly. The first took five years, because it was my first and required an enormous amount of research prior to the easy availability of the Internet. The second took a year and a half, primarily because I hadn’t yet learned to manage a complex project.
The novel idea I am working on now first came to me as a teenager. This is my sixth attempt to write it. Every time I have tried a different approach. Every time I became waylaid by impediments and forks in the road that kept me from finishing.
All the Scrum training I’ve had recently has infiltrated my brain. After reading a marvelous book by the Jeff Sutherland, founder of Scrum, called Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, it occurred to me that I could apply Scrum to the novel writing process.
I share with you this “Scrum Your Novel” website thats tracks my work in progress, “Rock Time,” until it becomes a finished work — so at last I can resolve this story that has haunted me since I was 17.
Maybe I’ve been brainwashed. But I’m convinced Scrum can work for writing a novel.
NaNoWriMo comes along every year in November. Join me on my journey?