I've been pair-writing a book with Mark Kilby, From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver. We hit a big milestone today: We published the first complete draft today.
We've been working on this book for a year. It's much better because of our collaboration. We reflected a little on our success to date:
- We both want the best possible book. Not the best, the best possible.
- We both respect each other, so our collaboration works.
- We found a consistent time to work together.
- We defaulted to writing. (Many writers have a problem of not writing. They think. They plan. They talk. They don't write.)
- We separated the editing from the writing. We did cycle to add back in details that we missed the first time. But we didn't edit as we wrote.
I can be a pain in the tush as a pair-writer. That's because I insist on writing. I am not nice enough to always make space for the other person, especially if the other person wants to talk. I write. This is both a strength and weakness. It's a strength because we finish words. It's a weakness because I might stomp on the other person. Mark and I have learned to read each other's visual cues. He's also learned to say, “Uh,” or “Hey,” or something else to get my attention. I don't think he's had to stay, “STOP!”
One thing we missed was keeping the build clean. Because we wrote using markdown in google docs, we sometimes had dangling or incorrect cross-links. The text was correct. The markdown wasn't always correct.
We didn't always find and fix those cross-links when we noticed them in the build. Last night, I spent two hours using Sigil to find and fix those problems. (That was a pain in the tush.)
When I write alone, I fix those problems as I create them. That's because I write in markdown, not using markdown in google docs.
We're not done. We need to receive our reviewer feedback, decide what to do with that feedback, create the print version, and more. But, we achieved a wonderful milestone today.
If you work in a distributed team that wants to use agile approaches, do yourself a favor and read From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams: Collaborate to Deliver.