Productivity Growth From A Writer’s Prospective

There’s a process for everything. An organized methodology can make almost anything more effective, including writing a murder mystery novel.

Over at the Type M for Murder blog, John Corrigan asked about the methodology of editing:

I’ve heard many different methodologies regarding manuscript editing: Some authors insist on writing a complete draft before going back, adding details, and flushing out scenes and characters. Other writers edit as they go, making each scene as polished as they can before working on the next so that when they have finished, the book is ready for submission or publication. I’ve also heard the longhand-versus-computer debate whereby some novelists compose and edit on a computer, while others write longhand, filling tablet after tablet. And there are scribes who combine these two methods: Richard Russo writes longhand on legal pads in the morning, then types his day’s work in the evenings, “editing” as he does so. Perhaps the most unusual method I’ve heard of is the prose writer who suggested that writers should draft work in single-spaced text but revise after double-spacing the manuscript.

Obviously, each writer does what works best for them.

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It seems there are as many stories about the techniques which writers use as they are writers themselves. Novelist John Grisham, for example, wrote The Firm in between the washer and the dryer in his laundry room. Vladimir Nabokov supposedly preferred to write standing up with all of his writing done on index cards. Corrigan’s blog post claims that science fiction author Michael Crichton “ate the same food for 90 consecutive days when working on a novel.” But the article also asks the most important question: “Is this superstition or methodology?”

Whether we are mystery writers, account executives, marketing specialists, engineers or sales reps, we can benefit from an organized process for our work. This is what AccelaWork calls the practice of methodology engineering, which is the systematic analysis and redesign of organizational procedures, policies and business actions through technical solutions implemented by stakeholders. Yet, as we have covered before, we must determine whether our rituals are just traditions or are part of the business improvement process. Likewise, while we should review what others are doing, consultants should be aware that case studies are not prescriptive, but descriptive. Improving our methodologies requires both learning from others and testing practices on our own.

Writing a novel is an extremely focused form of work, but most businesses routinely produce output which is as rich and complex as a best-selling book. The sum of your efforts is not often a neatly bound volume, but a collection of positive customer experiences. If you want to improve your processes, take the first step. Contact our business consultants to learn more about methodology engineering.

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