Wednesday 4 August 2010

Typewriting is not Storytelling

Dear Junior

If you would observe a famous author during a workday to get insights in how such people work, you might come out with a report along these lines.

"After breakfast, Famous Author sits down at the typewriter. She then punches the keys, using the tip of her fingers, repeatedly. From time to time she picks a new blank page and roll it into the typewriter. She continues until early afternoon, except for a lunch break, whereafter she walks around in town taking pictures of people."

Even the Famous Author herself might describe her workday in a similar way ("do always write at least ten pages a day" or "only write when inspired"), describing the structure of the work, or the ceremonies surrounding it.

Correct as these descriptions might be, they totally miss the point. They tell you nothing about weaving a plot, about evolution of characters, about where to start the story, about how to finish it, or other things that makes the work worth reading.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling that many descriptions of agile practices make the same mistake.