How Are You Better or Worse?

I’ve been working on several things these weeks, slowly  moving them to done. I have workshops for Agile 2016, books in progress, monthly columns, and my non-fiction writing.

As I reviewed previous workshop designs, I realized I’m a lot better at designing workshops than I was, say, ten years ago. Since I’m in a huge room, I’m not sure how to use some of that knowledge for this conference, but I know what I would do in a smaller room. I might divide the room and run the workshop that way. We’ll see. I still have time to refine the design.

I write non-fiction much faster than I used to. Oh, if you’re one of those people who believe you need to struggle over the words to be a great writer, you should sign up for my next writing workshop. For me, and many other people, the faster you write, the better you write. My monthly columns show that to me, if to no one else.

Satir Change ModelMy fiction writing? Well, let’s just say I am a work in progress. I am following the Satir change model. Oh my goodness, yes.

I have been experimenting with how to write so I can draw people into my fiction. I’m pretty good with non-fiction because I’ve been practicing for almost 20 years. (I was just astonished when I wrote that! 20 years of at minimum monthly columns. Wow. High-five me.)

On the other hand, I took one creative writing class in school many many years ago. I didn’t like it. I felt as if I never quite got the feedback I wanted. I tried another online class about 10 years ago and hated it. It was a peer-review class where the other wanna-be writers criticized our work. I do mean criticize.

I have learned about writing from my editor, beta, and reader feedback. I welcome that feedback. I have yet to learn from critiques. For me, that’s because critiques are different from feedback.

When I receive feedback, people tell me how they were confused or what didn’t work for them. George Dinwiddie, in his early review of Agile and Lean Program Management, told me he was tired of me telling him, “You want to…” That was excellent feedback for me.

His feedback tossed me into chaos momentarily. I thought, “What do you really want to say, Johanna? Say that.” I realized I could say something like, “Consider,” rewrite a little, and created a much better reading experience for my readers. Aside from saying what I wanted to say.

I am firmly in Chaos with my fiction writing. I can see some of the stories in my head. I am not so good at getting them on paper. I have a sticky on my monitor, reminding me of some of the points that will help me write better. I practice.  I take steps forward and steps backward as I practice. My practice is uneven. Sometimes my output is better, sometime’s it’s worse. I have not yet seen improvement overall. I do realize that learning to write fiction won’t be fast, and I can live with that. As long as I practice, I should be able to get better and at some point, better faster.

We are all better or worse in some ways than the way were before. For me, the question is how? In what ways have I improved? In what ways have I regressed or not improved? What do I care about? I won’t bother trying to improve things I don’t care about. I do want to improve what I do care about.

That, dear adaptable problem solvers is the question this week: How are you better or worse?

2 thoughts on “How Are You Better or Worse?

  1. Lisa Crispin

    Johanna, I marvel that you can do all of those things, and that you don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t go the way you want it to. I’ve decided to cut down on conferences so I can get to other things I want to do, such as more writing. And I want time to paint, I love painting and I never make the time. Thanks for reminding me that I don’t need to get down on myself if I don’t do something well or even if I don’t get to something I want to do. I can always improve.

    1. johanna Post author

      Lisa, well, I sometimes get dismayed, even though I rarely get discouraged :-) I’m so glad you are/will be writing more. I’ll send you an email about writing for agileconnection.com. I can’t wait for you to paint, so you can send me pix!

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