Daily Scrum for Writers

Letter tiles spelling “Writing Lab” on a wooden desktop
Letter tiles spelling “Writing Lab” on a wooden desktop
Original work by author

Once you’ve planned your Sprint, what’s next? Start writing! But if you’re anything like me, the moment you begin putting words onto the page, some new idea emerges that wrecks your plan. How do you respond to new ideas without losing momentum? That’s where the Daily Scrum comes in. In the Daily Scrum, you inspect your progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt your plan. It’s the first fifteen minutes of my writing day.

Review the Sprint Goal

First, I review my Sprint Goal. Reminding myself of what I’ve chosen to focus on keeps me from going astray. I evaluate new ideas against the goal. If they aren’t related to the Sprint Goal, I add them to my Product Backlog so I can consider it for a future Sprint.

Review the Sprint Backlog

If a new idea is related to the Sprint Goal, I have to adapt my plan. I add tasks for making necessary changes and delete tasks that are no longer needed.

I also look at how much work I have left in the Sprint. If there is more work left than time to do it, I’ll adjust the remaining scope. I don’t change the Sprint Goal — that remains my lodestar. But I’ll look for work that I can postpone and remove it from the Sprint. Maybe a research item can wait, for example. Another strategy is to find a way to make more time for writing. I might decide to cancel evening plans, or postpone today’s errands until tomorrow.

Make a Plan for Today

The next thing I ask myself is what I can do today? If I have a Product Backlog item in progress, I’ll ask myself what needs to happen to finish it. If I have notes for a scene, can I write the draft? If the draft is done, can I proofread it and polish it enough to move on?

If I don’t have an item in progress, I’ll look at the next one I need to do. What’s the first thing I need to accomplish? What else can I do today?

Keep an eye out for impediments

During my Daily Scrum, I also think about anything that’s likely to disrupt my ability to write. For example, recently the battery indicator on my mouse indicated it would soon need new batteries. I knew I didn’t have any, so I added batteries to my grocery list for later in the day.

One I’ve updated my plan, I get my butt in gear writing for the day, secure in the knowledge that I’m on track to accomplish my goal.

The Daily Scrum is how I inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal. Progress toward the Product Goal — my finished story — is the focus of the penultimate event in the Scrum cycle — the Sprint Review. I’ll talk about that in my next Writing Lab post.

Professional Scrum Trainer and fiction writer. Connect with me on Twitter @stfalco or visit samfalco.com

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