Master satirist Stephen Colbert describes how he runs his (now retired) Colbert Report each day:
“I say hello to the guest. I ask them the if they’ve seen the show. Sometimes they have, sometimes they haven’t. I always say the same thing, ‘I do the show in character. He’s an idiot. He’s willfully ignorant of what you know and care about. Please honestly disabuse me of my ignorance and we’ll have a great time.'”
Really fantastic lecture by Brandon Rhodes walking through the beginning of Tolkein’s writing and the support of a creative community of writers to evoke his best work: (via Metafilter)
While Tolkien had friends who could devise ingenious ways to critique his work without sounding critical, he had others whose remarks were merciless and direct — to the point that Tolkien simply stopped sharing new chapters as he wrote The Lord of the Rings. As programmers we share many of the struggles of writers and artists, and we often react just as badly to critique of our code. From Tolkien’s experience we will draw lessons about how to make critique generous instead of damaging, and actionable instead of personal.
We love to cast ourselves in this drama as we huff and puff and sweat and tear our hair out — “It’s important! Look how hard we’re working! I’m an important person working on important things!’” — but the reality is that you really can’t manage people like this all of the time. You’ll burn everyone out, and eventually, riding dangerously close to deadlines will leave your team frustrated and uninspired. When you’re drinking the cool nectar of a perfectionist fantasy future, you’re missing out on the reality of what’s right in front of you, right here: a problem that needs solving, and that you might have to take more than a few cracks at. You can only start from where you are.