Every non-blogging developer has those “I should start a blog” moments. Whether it be after reading a stunning piece by a revered expert, or when the new year rolls over and you say to yourself “There goes another year, and I still haven’t started that blog”. Thinking about it, as of this post, I have approximately 8 years of industry experience - So why have I not been able to produce a single blog post out of it? And what has happened now, to break that trend of literary silence?
Looking back, each time I would go to begin, I would find some excuse not to:
- It’s too late now, that ship has sailed. - I shouldn’t bother with writing at all.
- No one wants to hear my opinion, or no one would care. - The work I write about, isn’t worthy of being written about.
- My work isn’t interesting enough, I’m not some big-shot genius - I’ll write when I become one.
- My ability to write isn’t good enough. - I’ll never be skilled enough to write about my work.
- There’s no point in writing about anything, it won’t help me become a better developer.
Notice any patterns, or see any similarities with your thought process? Just going through the exercise of writing out my excuses, and trying to pick apart the arguments presented by that little voice in my head is enough to empower me to continue on my quest to break the cycle of never starting a blog.
- It’s never too late , you’re never too old. Sure, if you where destined to write 10,000 posts over your lifespan, and you only write 7,500 now, is that not an achievement? Is it not better to say you tried, and you failed. To know in confidence you gave it a red hot crack, and if it didn’t work out, have experience to go off for your next endeavour? You can extend this rationale to writing about technology/things that have passed, or something hyper niche. There is still something to gain from the act of writing about it, even if you’re writing about some programming language no one’s heard about.
- Don’t think too hard about your audience. Especially as you just start out, you don’t even have one yet right? Try to drill down as to why you want to start to write a blog in the first place. This is probably the biggest shift in mindset that actually got me writing. Whether what you write, is worth being written about is almost irrelevant. Especially when you start identifying your motivators and realising that whether your blog is read at all, doesn’t matter as long as it pushes you towards your goals and feeds your motivators.
- You won’t become one, if you never write. You’re a photographer the moment you start taking photos. You become an expert paid photographer or re-known photographic artist once you have a bit of experience under your belt, but at every stage of your photography journey, you truly are a photographer. You don’t become a skilled writer/blogger once you become a big-shot, you’re thinking about it the wrong way around.
- Your skill in writing will only improve the more you write. If you’ve made it this far through this post, you’ve probably heard some motivational speaking/writing along the lines of practice makes perfect. Don’t sweat the small stuff, your first posts won’t be your best work, and you can write about any part of your life, no matter the perceived skill level you have, or the perceived difficulty of the subject matter at hand.
- Writing is a critical form of communication, and improving your communication skills will be one of the biggest contributors to your success as a professional. This can be a contentious topic amongst developers, but for me, without a shadow of a doubt, I would say that your ability to communicate will impact many aspects of your role. I have observed this with 100’s of people I’ve worked with. These skills are something that you can carry on over your career as the technology you work on changes. A blog is a great way to get started on practising those skills. As an added underrated bonus, your blog will act as a reference for you as it grows! (to hear more on developing your communication skills, here is a great podcast on the topic: https://devchat.tv/js-jabber/jsj-403-why-developers-need-social-skills-with-mani-vaya/).
So, which straw broke the camels back for me? I would say it was the gradual adherence to “self-help” topics that I’d consumed over time, the compounding effect of all the motivational speakers I was tuned into, then a bunch of YouTube videos and a blog post that really pushed me over the edge one afternoon:
- “Quantity leads to quality” and “Action leads to motivation” - struthless https://youtu.be/Hh1d0wSVmGw?t=880
- “Draw the same thing every single day”, “Focus > Scattered”, “Constraints lead to doing” & “Thinking is a form of procrastination”- struthless again https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6NsEDwHHiE
- “Document, don’t create” - garyvee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVKofRN1dyI
- “How to Build an Online Presence as a Junior Developer” - Sam Jarman https://hackernoon.com/how-to-build-an-online-presence-as-a-junior-developer-c90bc096989b
Now, I don’t expect you to go through all of the above, but I would say GaryVee’s is probably a must watch, and it can sum up all of my learnings to this point in that one succinct statement “Document, don’t create”. Those words and that video really hit me for six. This entire time I’d been overthinking about what to build, what piece of software is trending at the moment that I should write about? Should I do an Elixir/React/WebAssembly project/post? If only I did cooler things at work… If only my side project was big enough… If only I was a better writer… Consistently searching for what to create, and procrastinating by not acting.
But not this afternoon, not this time around. I had noticed something in a side project, that I knew I could re-create in a blog, and furthermore to the spirit of all the content I had just consumed. Recently I had started work on my most successful side project of all time, and what was my secret to success on that project? Not giving a f*ck about anything, and just getting it done. Every time a question popped into my head about which framework I should choose, doing something the “right way”, or some other insignificant piece of malarkey popped up, I would acknowledge the thought, push it aside, and drive to actually just get the task at hand done. So in that spirit, I started writing. I didn’t care about blog structure. I didn’t obsess about getting it right on the first go. I didn’t research which online markdown editor to store my posts in. I didn’t weigh up the pros and cons on which platform to post on. I just stuck to the motto, and just got it done. I didn’t obsess over what to write about. I just started actually writing, and funnily enough, I decided to document my process of getting motivated to write my first blog post…
So why aren’t you blogging yet?