Alice Walker and Flannery O’Connor Showed Up: You Can Too!

Once every two months or so, I travel down a semi-rural highway flanked by pine trees and cow pastures–deep into South Georgia to visit some dear friends and get my introvert on. During the three-hour drive, I pass through the homes and haunts of literary giants.  First comes Eatonton, GA, the birthplace of Alice Walker, novelist, short-story writer, poet, essayist, and activist. Her most famous work is the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning novel, The Color Purple


Then I motor past lakes and farms through Milledgeville where Flannery O’Connor lived on her mother’s dairy farm called Andalusia. Best known for her short story collections such as A Good Man is Hard to Find, and her two novels, O’Connor wrote some of her best work in the front room of a two-story farmhouse on the now tranquil and partially restored property.

Walker and O-Connor wrote about the rural South in their most popular works; they also share an approach to prioritizing time for writing.  


In a 2010 interview with Writer’s Digest, Walker said, “…for, I would say, three decades, I wrote every morning, or I made the space.” According to several biographers and her own correspondence and interviews, O’Connor also set aside writing time from 9 a.m. to noon each day, “in case a good idea shows up.”  


Writing literary masterpieces takes talent, of course, but it also requires the self-discipline of “showing up.”  Juggling the multiple deadlines and ever-tightening character counts of grant applications, reports, letters of support and direct mail letters also requires us as fundraising and grant professionals to show up.  Days may fragment into many different projects and other demands, but prioritizing time required for each task gets more done, more efficiently.


Over the last year, I’ve dipped my metaphorical toe into Scrum. This project management and productivity system has helped shape my own workdays by breaking things down into individual tasks and assigning them a numerical score according to the complexity and time needed to complete them. Successful Scrum use also hinges on frequent, regularly scheduled check-ins with co-workers and/or colleagues to report accomplishments, obstacles and to reassign tasks if needed, to move the project forward.

Let me be clear, I am definitely meeting-adverse, so at first, I was skeptical.  But it turns out that checking in regularly and frequently works well in software and application development, where Scrum originated and helps enormously in the many different moving parts associated with grant writing and fundraising. An enchanting part of Scrum is the built-in measure of happiness/job satisfaction that is a part of each check-in process.  

But I am a rank beginner, so you don’t have to take my word for it.  Check out our latest episode of the Fundraising HayDay Podcast where we interview Diane Leonard of DH Leonard Consulting (our Season Two Sponsor).  Diane explains how fully implementing Scrum helped her team double their productivity in half the time. She also happens to be a certified Scrum Master and has the giant whiteboard to prove it.

And just a thought—finding a productivity tool or system that works could free up time to show up for creative projects.  Maybe your great American novel will emerge if you schedule time to show up for it…


DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC is so excited to be season 2 sponsors for Fundraising HayDay, a podcast about grants and such. Catch up on season 1 and stay up to date on the new season here.

Don’t let grants stress you out, check out the helpful grant writing services our team has to offer here.

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