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.