@patio is one of my favorite people on Twitter and he often tweets great stuff. He recently tweeted this:
Words cannot express how superior this is, for you and others, than "write no blog posts." Expertise not required! https://t.co/0B8L73jGKL
— Patrick McKenzie (@patio11) April 9, 2016
This tweet made me think that I should write about why I started writing here. I have had this DigitalOcean droplet since late 2014, but I mainly used it to host a few personal projects; I did not have any blog posts here even though I have always wanted to write. It all started with writing a private, every day journal.
I started writing a journal sometime last year. I started it because I realized I simply consumed too much information – it kind of struck me that in spite of consuming so much information – via blogs, twitter, reddit, hackernews and books I created very little. Particularly, after a couple of weeks into writing a journal, I realized it doesn’t matter how much I read – unless I write about it – give my thoughts some kind of physical form, they disappear very quickly.
The journal was first on a Google doc and I continued using it for a couple of months. Once the habit caught on, I started needing additional features that Google doc doesn’t support. For example, I started consolidating ideas under a title; then I wanted to add tags to each title; then I wanted a way to search for titles so that I can add and edit stuff; I wanted to be able to search by tags – clearly, a Google doc wasn’t sufficient anymore. So, I moved my journal to a private wordpress installation. I have been writing my journal for about 7-8 months now and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. (One motivation for starting to write a journal is the Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – an excellent book that I can not recommend enough)
Still, I couldn’t bring myself to start writing a public blog. Because, once I started writing my journal, I found out that my writing sucked (still sucks). So for a long time, I kept postponing the idea of writing a public blog. Things changed when I came across the blog post by @patio.
Particularly, the above sections of the post convinced me that excellent communication skills are far more important than technical chops to be a successful programmer; and instinctively, writing seemed like the easiest way to improve my skills since I like to read. Writing allows me to put down all my thoughts and go back and edit/revise until I’m satisfied with the outcome to publicly publish. The surprising part of this process is how my thoughts and ideas actually change during it. Writing allows me to see the trail of my ideas and thoughts, be more thoughtful and think about them deeply than before – it has helped me reduce my mindless consumption of information and spend more time creating some, however insignificant they may be.
I also see a lot of parallels between programming and writing. Both result in a very tangible product; it is easy to create a shitty product in both and extremely difficult to create a aesthetically beautiful one; both require lots of hard work and years of training to get good at. I’m hoping to get better at both of them by continuing to write here.