Blogging December 28, 2015 jess 2 comments

Working up the will to blog

I wrote a few Tumblr posts when I first started Dev Bootcamp. Documenting how the experience affected me and the things I learned was exciting at first. However, I gave up the practice when the tedium of daily life took over the initial excitement. Now, over a year and a half later, I wish I had kept up a real programming blog. It can be difficult to remember the sheer amount of information I crammed into my brain at the beginning of my development career. I wish I had a record of my progress. More importantly, since I hadn’t kept track of my progress, I re-taught myself certain things over and over. If I had been more thoughtful about recording my process, I might have saved myself a lot of time.

I recently realized that I want to do more for my professional and personal development. I want to start public speaking. I want to start blogging. I want to finally start taking better care of my health. While searching for ways to accomplish these goals I found John Sonmez’s blogging course. This course is likely responsible for the fact that I started a blog at all.

Choice Paralysis

One of my biggest struggles when trying to start up a blog was that there are so many choices. You can create your own blogging platform and host it. In fact, I’ve had many people tell me that all developers ought to do that, as it serves as a showcase for their skills. You can start something up on Squarespace, Blogger, WordPress, Ghost. You can create an account on Medium and start blogging there. All these are valid options, but sometimes more is not better. Given all these possibilities, I froze trying to decide on the optimal path.

John’s blogging course recommends WordPress as the way to go when starting a new blog. I ended up going with this because I don’t write PHP, which WordPress uses. This might seem counterintuitive. WordPress makes sense for me because I want to spend my blogging time actually writing. Working with a platform I feel empowered to tinker with would tempt me to spend all my time under the hood. By providing recommendations on getting started, the blogging course helped beat my choice paralysis.

Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good

I also struggle with sending something out into the world that I don’t consider perfect. Especially if it’s attached to my name. Committing to a posting schedule is an integral part of the blogging course. For me, I think it was the hardest part. It’s important to allow yourself to make mistakes as long as it’s in the service of making you better. The course demanded I make a posting schedule and take it seriously. It also reminded me that it doesn’t matter how much editing or refactoring I do if I never ship the product. Sometimes good is good enough, and perfect is a death sentence.

Another tool I found that helps me make my editing process less painful is Hemingway. It checks my writing to make sure I’m not being too long-winded in my sentence construction. It also highlights uses of passive voice, adverbs, and phrases that have common, simpler alternatives.

Sometimes I flippantly ignore the recommendations from Hemingway. Of course I need that adverb from the previous sentence. Yes, I want to use the word ‘retain’ instead of ‘keep.’ But highlights showing my crazy tangents or run-ons make me mindful of how I present my thoughts.

What next? What about your other goals?

I want to keep blogging not just because it serves as a record of what I learn, but serves as an incentive to learn. I’ve made a commitment to myself to post here twice a week. That keeps me motivated to find or learn things worth posting about twice a week. I hope to find some user groups in Chicago to speak at. Chicago PyLadies and I are creating a series about the fundamentals of conference speaking. (More on that as it gets closer.) I’m reading John’s book, Soft Skills, for motivation to make my blog better and to work on my health. The New Year is a convenient time to start thinking about these things. I’m excited to record my progress as I work through these milestones.

Thanks to the Simple Programmer blogging course, I stand a better shot of staying motivated and consistent after the initial excitement is gone.