Become Comfortable with Incompleteness: Writing Tips from Rands

“Don’t write a book” is the first piece of advice Michael Lopp offers us in a post chron­ic­ling his writ­ing pro­cess.

Lopp–an engin­eer­ing man­ager at Apple, author of Being Geek and Man­aging Humans, and more com­monly known as Rands–details his tools and meth­ods for writ­ing a book and, as always, his advice is applic­able to more than just the top­ic at hand:

You must become com­fort­able with incom­plete­ness. At one point dur­ing the latest book, I had sev­en chapters in vari­ous state of done­ness. When I began Man­aging Humans, I’d get pan­icky if I didn’t com­plete one chapter before start­ing the next. This is your brain, once again, try­ing to organ­ize where it should­n’t.

The reas­on I have simple, read­ily avail­able tools is that I can nev­er tell when I’m going to be able to write. I’m on a dead­line and my edit­or is breath­ing down my neck, which means I do have a weekly writ­ing sched­ule that carves off morn­ings three days a week. As I settle into one of these morn­ings, it’s just as likely that I’ll write as it is that I’ll count the num­ber of folks in the room who’ve chosen to drink from ceram­ic mugs versus paper cups.

A sin­gu­lar focus on fin­ish­ing a chapter is just anoth­er bar­ri­er to writ­ing. By brows­ing all my chapters in vari­ous states of done­ness, I’m more likely to pick one that is going to tickle my writ­ing fancy: Oh hey, I have some­thing to say about this today. Those ceram­ic mugs have to wait.

Kathy Sier­ra’s com­ment is one not to miss.