I struggled with writing this post. The poison post schedule has started to feel like a chore, and I think it’s because the last few posts haven’t been very meaningful. So I’ve been doing a little soul searching about what I’m trying to get out of writing in the first place.
Realistically, nothing (serious) is going to happen to me if I don’t meet the schedule. Marty will probably hound me every time she writes one, but everyone else who might invoke physical violence is about 1600km away. At the end of the day, the poison blog chain is a small push to encourage posting, but if there’s no purpose to post for, it becomes somewhat contrived.
And yet there was definitely a reason why the poison blog schedule exists, one that I think is still extremely relevant. When Mel and I first came up with the idea of a poison blog, its main purpose was to provide a way to keep in touch, since we were getting busier, moving to another country and all that.
Embarrassingly, looking at my last few posts, they’ve been less about keeping in touch and more about putting something out there. The most recent one has really been A postcard from Chicago, but looking at it now makes me wonder how valuable it really was in terms of an update. It’s also a little lonely when you do write something and you don’t get any indication that someone has actually read it, especially if you’ve put some time into it. I think I can definitely do better.
I recently watched a video about accumulating career capital, talking about how how successful folks accumulate the skills they leverage to shape the life they want, but is also critical of common wisdom that you should follow your passion. One of the things mentioned is the idea of deliberate practice, where folks engage in activities purposefully meant to get better at their craft, as opposed to just normal practice, where they carry out their craft. It rang true for me because it highlighted the difference between “just programming and writing stuff” and “writing something with the purpose of improving yourself as a developer”.
I think a similar idea applies here, where if you say you are writing to keep in touch, or to advance your professional career, it should be deliberate, purposeful, and you should have a clear idea of how to evaluate if you’ve been successful, be it by receiving feedback, the number of pageviews, likes, or otherwise.
Something like keeping in touch seems a little fuzzier, but I know I can definitely share more than posting some pictures and some short narration 😉 I still think that meeting face to face is the best way to keep in touch, and failing that Skype or Hangouts is a distant second, but being able to share something helps to asynchronously fill in the inevitable gaps between those times. It’s not like I’ll quiz everyone I told about my blog “Have you read it? Don’t you know I did this?”, but more of a way to say hey, if you have some time and you’d like to catch up, you can even if I’m not available or free, and we can talk about something a little more than superficial the next time we do manage to catch up. It goes both ways though, and I’ve been more slack than I should have when it comes to reading other blogs.
It’s a similar sort of story when I look at my posts about the projects I’ve written. I had always thought that I would be able to point to my projects at some point in the future and say “hey, look, I did this in two weeks” as a way of building up some level of professional credibility. Reading them now, I don’t think I’ve gotten closer to it because it’s always been an idea, a naive hope at the back of my mind that I’ve not actually tried to consciously work towards in my project posts. Practicing is great, but it’s deliberate practice that’s going to get you somewhere.
In a long roundabout way, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s definitely still a reason for me to keep writing, but I hope to do so with a little more purpose, to make sure I’m getting as much out of writing as I hope to. In a new year, in a new, overdue post, I hope to do a little better;)
Why do you write? Have you been getting as much out of blogging as you would have liked to? Would love to hear your thoughts, especially folks on the poison blog roll 🙂
I’ll be the first to point out that this post hasn’t really talked much about what I’ve actually been doing in the last few weeks. In my defense though, that’s going to be the topic of the next post that will definitely be on time 😛