I have worked for the last 10 years as a Project Management (PM) professional in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry where I have spent 18 years of my professional career. In my personal life, I am discovering and challenging myself in fiction writing, a personal passion. I have been taking courses in various writing mediums to learn, absorb and practice. What I am finding is that the PM and Writing skillsets are not that different in techniques. Below are a few change management skill sets adapted for my fellow Writers to help you in your writing process from beginning to end.
Sounds simple enough, but many of us don’t do this effectively when writing (or planning our Projects). Brain storming takes practice and experience, the more you do the better you become. Get the ideas flowing and spend time on it, Rome was not built in a day. Is it a topic and situation you want to address, a feeling or emotion? Outline the story, it doesn’t have to be formal it can be triggers that can be developed later. A house can’t be built without a blueprint and neither can a story or project. I am a big fan of the white board and dry erase markers, but anything will do from good ol’ pen and paper to dictation software.
WHO’s in CHARGE
Once the need for change is identified, who is in charge of the process? Is it the editor, the author, the publisher? Know what your role is in the change. If you feel strongly against the change you need to ensure you are communicating this with solid rationale and references as to why a change would be detrimental to your story. Stand up for what you believe, and be prepared to defend. Remember not all team members are cheerleaders, but you certainly want your team rooting for you in the game.
RECOGNIZING THE NEED
Many writing projects fail because of those not willing to recognize a need for change or ignore it all together. For example if your editor, publisher or writing friend/group presents the need for an alternation to your story and you dismiss it as an author first hand without listening you are indeed failing to recognize the need. Ultimately, as the author it’s your choice to decide if the element is really necessary and if retooling is needed, but failing to listen at all is detrimental to your writing (or Project). The great thing about being the author is you are the judge and jury creatively, ensure you listen to the lawyers they have points to make and are skilled too.
Are people simply defiant to change? I often think we like to mimic that we are all for change, but deep down its work, and most of us don’t want to go backwards to go forward. We want everything done and completed yesterday. It takes practice to be impervious to change and criticism for that matter. How to do this is to step away from your writing and really see it from an outsiders view (i.e., this is similar to ‘recognizing the need’).
Much like brain storming this can be an effective way to ensure you overcome common obstacles to change. For example, you decide to change an element in your story half-way through and this modification will affect other sub-plots. Role play this in an outline first, you’ll be able to see the kinks and address them before rolling out to full scale. This is a practice in lessening the modification risk in a project. Test the water temperature before you dive in. Does it really make the story better?
KNOW WHEN YOU’RE DONE
This may seem obvious but often it’s not. Change in any form involves the human element and it can be unpredictable. You’ll find hurdles along the way – doubters, chaotic atmospheres, skeptics. Heck, sometimes you will be the one contributing to these hurdles. The key to stopping is the end of the story all elements are wrapped up to satisfaction. You have not only drafted but completed the edit process several times. You may only be done when your story is published, if that is your deliverable to the end. The secret is not to continue working on a job that is finished, be done!
I certainly have an appreciation for writing and the process as I am doing this more and more. It’s become second nature for me to loop in my PM skill sets to my budding Writing skills. I hope this small insight to project management is helpful and rings true for my fellow writers/bloggers.
Please feel free to comment and share. Look forward to hearing from you!