If I’ve realized one thing about myself in the past six years as a developer, it’s that I have a difficult time finishing things. Ideas flow in and make their way into a list. Some are trashed, some are started only to be abandoned, some form a half-thought before I get bored or distracted, and some even make it all the way to a state of near-completion. Many times it’s that stage that I find myself unable to move beyond. And all the while I kick myself for this habit. I haven’t been able to break myself of this habit yet, but I am starting to realize a bit more about why it happens, whether to me or any driven, creative person.
We all work in a field that demands continual learning. And not only that but we live in a time where the resources to fuel that learning are vast and endless. Seriously. You could spend the entirety of your working day just catching up on the content posted on Smashing Magazine in the past day, and that’s a single resource. Our medium is young and evolves at a breakneck pace, and we keep up with it the best we can, because we are endlessly passionate about what we do.
The result, I think, is that we all tend to get down on ourselves about the work we create. We start projects and by the time we finish them a few weeks or a month later, we’ve learned new and more efficient ways to code something and we’ve seen a thousand more websites that are beautifully designed and responsive and use icon fonts and new parts of CSS specs and have gorgeous color palettes and oh my god I need to redo everything and nobody will like this and this so-and-so cewebtrity recommended in his or her recent blog to try this other technique and my code is the worst and HOLY. FUCKING. CHRIST.
Underlying all of this is our inability to just forget about writing code for a damn minute and write about our code. This, primarily, has been the thing nagging me recently, and tonight is the night I finally sat down to do something about it. A few things in particular have been primary motivators, so I’m laying them out here to explain why I just ditched my previous website, coded a new one in a couple of hours and put it up for all of the internet to see.
Everything is a draft, or, no fucks given
About a year ago, Aral Balkan did this great project called “Breaking Things”, a documented process of just doing something and letting go of the details that can get in the way of creation. Check out this gem of a quote:
Just remember that the best way to start something new is to actually start something new. Don’t worry, because you will get it wrong at first anyway. That’s fine. Everybody does.
It got me thinking, but the time wasn’t right. At the time I was set on getting my shit together to move to San Francisco and I could only think about moving full steam ahead. Then last week Garann Means put up a brilliant post about, again, just doing it: “How to blog about code and give zero fucks”. Read that immediately. If you’ve read it, read it again because it’s worth the laughs if nothing else. GOD, she nails it! Some of the headings of the piece sum it up really well: “no quality control”, “assume no one will ever see it”, “write like yourself”, “promote it, or don’t”.
You don’t have to be perfect, or convert your glorious tabs to spaces, or even spell-check the damned thing. Just hit Post. The worst that will happen is nothing.
After reading that I could just feel the weight of my neglected blog, could hear the tumbleweeds blowing about, the last post made just after I moved out to San Francisco at the end of 2012. Eight months in a brand new city working for a new company in the veritable EPICENTER of web development and not a single post since moving here!
Today. The tipping point. I listened to Jeffrey Zeldman on the latest episode of Dorm Room Tycoon as he all but called out to me by name and told me to start writing again. During the interview he says that he knew nothing about design until he started teaching it, and there is a truth here that we all forget about far too often. To explain something in words requires research and encourages us to disect and exhaust our knowledge of a topic, often leading to new discoveries or acquiring an understanding possessed by few but unknowingly desired by many.
Let’s start over
This is all new. This is all a draft. This is all a work in progress.