Sparrow's Blog

T. Sparrow

    Being an agile developer

    One thing that has always struck me about "agile" teams is how very much they feel like waterfall teams. When I first heard the term Agile Development, I was excited, and I thought it was an awesome way to build 10X developers. Only I almost missed it with my own app.

    To be an agile team, two things have to be in place. One more than anything. Agile teams working on agile projects have to have a direct line of customer feed-back. If they don't build that feedback in from the start, they're not really Agile.

    The second aspect, is budgeting for the feed-back. How much time does the team spend responding to and building things to address the feedback.

    As I build my app, and eventually my team, I've got to actively account for these "features".

    Customers need to come first.

    August 05, 2020

    5 Dollars A Day

    is better than 100$ an hour.

    I've two jobs.. In one I make (for arguments sake) 100$ an hour. The other job only pays me 5$ a day. I had to explain to my 9 year old, that I'd rather be the 5$ a day person than 100 per hour.

    Today I'll spend 10 hours and at the end, I'll make just 5 little dollars.

    And tomorrow I'll make that same 5 measly dollars again.

    But, tomorrow I won't work, and still I'll make the 5$.

    The day after that I'll work another 10 hours and make an additional 5$. It's not the same 5$. This is a totally new fiver.

    I'll still make the first 5 dollars again, for the work I did back then.

    Now I'm making 10$. 5 new and 5 recurring.

    So I asked my daughter which would you rather have 1000 today or 5$ for every day of the year.

    She quickly did the math and picked the 5$ per day.

    I'm focussing on making 5$, and I hope my kids focus on their own 5$

    July 27, 2020

    Copy Work

    I've recently started typing out the first chapter for books that I've liked.

    I'm not sure where I read about this idea, but very recently I decided to do this with an author that I've enjoyed. One that I've actually spent more money on than any one else (in the last 10 years).

    I did this for a two reasons.

    1. I really loved the books, and I find I get to experience them on a whole different level, when I'm typing them out. I don't miss the characters so much.

    2. I want to write more like this author. If they can have me spend over a hundred bucks on them (in just a few months) then they have something I want to copy.

    The first reason is an excuse to re-read the books. I already do that often, but this time I'm going slower, and it draws out the pleasure.

    The second reason though.. That work on their works, helps me see how the structure sentences, and paragraphs. I get to really read it as a writer. Every sentence stands out. Every word.

    Is there an author you love?

    Try a chapter.. Type it out and take notes on what you've learned.

    July 26, 2020

    Time on the weekend

    I never seem to have any time to write on the weekend.

    All my normal weekday habits have no triggers on Saturday or Sunday, so I've been prone to make excuses and skip my session.

    But I've also been having sleeping problems. Stress, and life have me going to be later and sleeping rougher.

    And these things are related how?

    In an effort to figure out how to make it so I can sleep, I came upon a trick. Make going to be and waking up a habit. Do it at the same time every day. Even on vacation and weekends.

    Our bodies get into a rhythm, and the best way to have consistent sleeps is ensure we have consistent sleep patterns.

    And this brings me back to writing.

    During the week I wake up at 7:10 am. It's not insane (like 4am) and it lets me get everything done, and make it to work on time.

    On Saturday and Sunday, instead of leaving the house I simply put some earphones on and sit at my kitchen table. My kids and SO are still asleep, and I can sip at coffee and write, just like every other day.

    Find a habit trigger. Write every day.

    July 25, 2020

    "Plot is the last resort of bad writers"

    -- Stephen King --

    I am a pantser, and proud of it.

    I like tend imagine back stories for my characters and then stop planning what's going to happen before chapter one begins. They each have their own way of dealing with things, and often I get so surprised during the writing that I've even burst out laughing while writing a scene. One or two times, I've cried on the bus while writing a "bad" scene.

    Characters are IMHO way more interesting than Plot. A good plot will take the reader on a journey, but a good character can take a reader into the journey.

    Next time you write, start with the people in the story. What is it about them that you love (or hate)? Can you see parts of yourself in them?

    If you can, so to will your reader.

    July 24, 2020

    Write on the commute.

    If you are still commuting to work, it's a great place to steal some writing time.

    I know some of us are not going into work, but for those of us that sit in traffic, or ride public transport, this time can be a gift.

    If you're like me and you sit on the bus or train for at least 90 minutes a day, a pen and note book is an amazing investment. For just a couple dollars you can add 500 + words to your novel every day.

    It is hard to miss the salient idea of most "guides to success" push. Good habits lead to small improvement, that over time lead to big results. Most also push the idea that good triggers lead to small habits.

    Want to start exercising every day, put your gym shoes on. Build that really small habit and you'll be heading out the door for your run without even thinking about it.

    Want to start writing every day. Give yourself the tools.. A pen and note book (hard backed) and you're sort of there. You still need the trigger.

    For me it's stepping on the bus. Without a thought I put my bus pass in my bag, and pull out my pen and pad, and I get to work.

    The commute also offers another benefit to writing. It's interruption free.

    For the most part, we are anonymous blobs while we make our way to work. Once we find our seat, we zone out. We are alone in the crowd. If we have a decent set of earphones we don't even have to listen to the world.

    We can block out the "real" world, and sink into our own creation.

    Now driving is a bit harder, but oddly we can get More writing done when we drive. There are at least a dozen free or near free apps that we can install on our phones that would allow for direct speech to text. Or we can get a bit simpler, and just record the audio. Then all you have to do, while you sit in traffic is talk your book into existence.

    Now the rub though...

    We have either a long hand or a voice recording of our books. We've got to get it typed.

    This is not a flaw though. With the speed of pen and voice, we've created our first draft. Many very famous writers still produce their works long hand first. As they enter it into the computer, they are producing their "cleaner" second draft.

    I personally use a half page clipboard, not a note book. My daily commute goal is to fill two 8.5x11 pages, both sides. That's about two thousand words (I write small). It works for me because I take the resulting pages and mix them up, then transcribe them. Reading the story out of order lets me see things differently, and I find it makes editing easier.

    I've taken the time back.

    July 23, 2020