Writers Are Agile Too

Few people in the world can say writing is their primary source of income.

Most part-time authors have income producing careers that command attention. When an opportunity to write appears, making the most of that rare commodity called time is essential.

Being “Agile” includes being prepared to work with flexibility, readiness, and having the commitment to act when and where the availability arises. Knowing how to formulate and segment work will ensure the most efficient use of time for you and your network.

Tapping at the keyboard is only the beginning. Authors need to be competent in many areas:

  • Find beta readers
  • Sort beta suggestions
  • Formulate character traits
  • Track plot-lines
  • Rewrite edits with interest grabbing intensity

As if that is not enough, authors need to also provide multiple services and tasks beyond their skill in word craft:

  • Review for fellow writers
  • Write and send queries and reply to emails
  • Social media postings
  • Develop book covers
  • Enter contests
  • Create promotions
  • Implement marketing strategies

These are only a few of the many activities with which an author must engage in and manage.  The shortage of available time requires us to develop the ability to work on any needed task effectively, reinforce successful behaviors, and play well with others.

Step One

Before writing begins, there are a few activities you can undertake to develop an environment where success is inevitable.

  • Form a strong network base
  • Evaluate personal strengths
  • Evaluate personal weaknesses
  • Identify your strengths and qualities to offer members of your network.

Agile is for AuthorsRemember that your talent and connections are your contributions to forming a strong team. Be a member of a responsive network of professionals, able to produce a product while participating as a team, rather than an individual in a large group. Success in any endeavor is often due to the broader team and is much harder to capture as a lone wolf.


Identify your talents.

Each of us has a network, whether small and intimate or large and diverse. And each of the people in our lives has a talent. It is human nature to seek out people with like interests and skills. Seek out and identify the abilities and interests of friends, family, and peers, and realize their values.
Step Two

Agile for AuthorsAnalyze the people that you know, or have known in the past. What contributions can they add, and what are their needs? Reach out to refresh old connections, and maintain those that are interested in supporting you in developing your craft. Find new ways to contribute to their endeavors and make connections relevant. Everyone has a contribution to make.


For example:

  • At home, parents can be recruited as beta readers
  • Retired relatives can be editors
  • Grandparents are an awesome source of information
  • Nieces and nephews with art skills help with swag creations for your brand

Step Three

Expand your network by seeking out those with talent where you are weakest. Reach out to as many people, as you can, to develop a network of capable people with whom you may strengthen relationships and develop trust. Compliment your strengths and begin to fill the gaps created by your weaknesses. Assembling a strong network of friends and peers is one way to ensure that you can make the most of every creative opportunity.

Take a long hard look at your existing and possible network for:

  • People that you may refer to others
  • People to hire as  assistants or experts
  • People as subject matter experts to respond to inquiries
  • People with research skills to provide valuable information
  • People who are great leads to those who can be subject matter experts

Identify new connections that will make your network stronger through:

  • Social media
  • Your local community
  • Your church group or local clubs
  • Professional associations
  • Friends of a supportive family member
  • Hard working peers

New people you meet can build your network with every “Hello.” Follow up with friendly and informative communications, and when you are able, contribute to helping them achieve their goals.

Streamline your time by learning how to segment your work and when to utilize your contacts. Often, deadlines and available time dictate what gets worked on and when. People in a robust network are interested and willing to develop new techniques, learn new strategies, identify new sources of information, and the opportunity to establish new markets or new readers.

Authors Are Agile AlsoAmong a supportive network, you should be able to share each other’s pitfalls, successes, and joys, as well as enhance each other’s skills and insights. In this way you may become stronger as a writer and as a person.

When you sit down for those precious moments to write or research you will know that your network contacts are available and will be informative, and responsive as you seek help in the areas of their expertise. in implementing new skills you have learned, and respond in like when contacted. Reach out to them and share your thoughts and ideas, and incorporate their knowledge into your writing preparations.

If you are weak in an area,  find someone who is strong in it. Work together to complement each others strengths and weaknesses. For an example, an author friend who is excellent at tweaking websites traded her expertise for another author’s editing skills. Both benefit from each others strengths by working together.

Implementing Agile

For an example, if you found a great beta reader, establish a plan with her/him before beginning, and agree to a time-bound commitment along with clear expectations for both parties. Make sure that your beta reader will feel that she plays  a vital part of your writing team to ensure the success of the project. Establish a short-term plan together that fits works for both parties. Work together to budget time, to set a cadence, and work through that plan. It is this cooperation and collaboration that will make for a strong network that will combine experience and knowledge. s

In Conclusion

This year at the Chanticleer Author Conference Nancy and I learned about several new resources on the web to reach new readers, test out new story lines, and met with various support services available to authors. We learned skills that other authors shared in workshops, in panels, and over meals. We enjoyed connecting with new friends and strengthening previous and virtual relationships. It is always energizing and rewarding to be among hardworking, successful, and dedicated industry front-runners and innovators who are willing to aid in each other’s successes.

More to come on developing and utilizing successful techniques that you can apply in your valuable time in the next article of Agile for Authors and Writers.

Editor’s Note:

For more information on building an environment for agile success read Agile Readiness; Four Spheres Of Lean And Agile Readiness by Thomas P Wise and Reuben Daniel. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Gower Publishing, and anywhere books are sold.

Tom holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Management and teaches courses in project management and quality at Villanova University and DeSales University. He is currently developing curriculum at Eastern University based on his books: Agile Readiness and Trust In Virtual Teams.

Tom and Nancy are award winning authors. Their book, The Borealis Genome is the 2013 Dante Rossetti Grand Prize Winner and a 2014 Cygnus Award First In Category winner. Their books have won multiple awards including Finalist with the USA Best Book Awards and The International Book Awards.