A Crisis of Management

Agile Novel Management has revealed some…unexpected things.

First, I’m not going this alone. I’d thought I would be and help stepped in from unexpected directions. I have professional help. No, not a therapist – though that may become a writing expense before this is all over. I’ll tell you that part in a minute. No, a friend who is a professional Scrum Master offered to pilot this project with me. He’d been wondering for a while how to apply Agile to normal life and figured my novel would make a fertile test ground. I also found another writer interested in trying out the Agile Way. He’s looking for a way to get his finished as well, and thought this sounded like an interesting method.

SOOOOOOO…the first thing I learned is how little I actually know about Agile. I jumped into this with the cozy cushion of Dunning-Kruger below me, only to notice after I leaped I had NO IDEA what waited for me on the way down. I haven’t even gotten to actual writing work yet. The first steps for Agile involve establishing the parameters for your project. And – I made stunning realization number one.

I never would have thought of myself as indecisive. Yet here I am, wavering on literally every decision that needs to be made. Do I self-publish as a serial? I was set on that, until I talked with some friends who thought I was short-changing myself if I didn’t give traditional publishing a try. Picked the book, until another friend told me she liked one of my other ideas better, and I thought of a couple of more and ….well, you get the picture.

I keep trying to leave my options open. But while Agile is about flexibility, even Agile can’t magically allow me to have it both ways. Perhaps I’ve discovered why I couldn’t get a novel written earlier. I’ve been shying away from commitment. All those of you who know me may gasp appropriately. I know. I couldn’t believe it, either. If there’s one thing I can so, it’s make a decision. Yet here I am, waffling. Why?

Queue stunning realization number two. I’m afraid. Insert another shocked gasp here. Me? I blaze trails for everyone else to follow. And that, I think, is part of my problem. A friend recently reminded me that most people don’t have a passion in life, and don’t know how to relate to someone who does. I write to give expression to my emotions, to share them with other people. I’m afraid that I will pour all my passion into this project and no one will read it.

It’s not an unrealistic fear. Any author will tell you marketing a novel is harder than writing one. I am a published author, and yet very few people I know have ever actually read any of the stories I got published. I find it hard to have conversations with people, because it feels like people avoid talking to me. How am I supposed to succeed marketing my novel when I can barely get people to say good morning after I’ve said it first? I know no one notices me unless I’m standing right in front of them. They look away and poof! forget I exist. I don’t even have family members I can guilt into buying my book. No, really. Don’t tell my relatives I’m writing a book. They might find me, then I’d have to get a restraining order….

Stunning realizations one and two stem from the same deep-seated issue. I’m avoiding committing because I don’t know what will make people like my book. I know, I know, I should write what I want and not care what other people want. But I already know that if I write it, they WON’T come. And what’s the point of writing a novel if no one reads it?

Agile’s forcing me to face my emotions head-on. I must admit, that wasn’t what I was expecting when I started. Most writers would tell you they need therapy, and that’s why they write. Apparently I need therapy to write a business plan.

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