A Moment to Pause

Apr 20 2018

When I started writing again, I decided to publish something every Friday for six months to try and make it a habit. I’m just over a third of the way through, so thought now might be a time to just pause and reflect.

With the exception of 30th March — it was Good Friday, I got caught without an article ready to publish, and could either have spent a morning editing or gone mountain biking for the day — I’ve stuck to my schedule! Articles have taken much longer to write and edit than I initially imagined but I’ve enjoyed “shipping” something every week; even when it’s not perfect. The rush you get from releasing something out into the world is addictive and I can credit the release of my Statamic themes to the momentum I gained writing.

“A good plan, violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week” - George Patton

Overall, after just two months of regular writing I’m much more purposeful with how I spend my time. Writing has also given me an excuse to spend less time at my computer, instead favouring my Baron Fig notebook. Even though my MacBook Pro is portable, I find myself always using it at my desk. When I use pen & paper, I instead tend to work from a variety of locations, moving around the house, to a coffee shop or even the beach.

It’s no secret that I love working from my iPad Pro, even for programming, but it’s never felt as productive as my laptop. That’s hardly surprisingly when you consider that developers weren’t the iPads intended audience and that I’ve built up almost two decades worth of muscle memory with traditional computers. The big surprise has been that using pen & paper — index cards are particularly good — to plan my applications and then using the iPad to implement them has been a far more productive workflow than just sitting at my laptop, hacking away.

Whilst the pressure of a weekly deadline has been good for productivity, I feel that it’s compromised the purpose of my writing. I want this site to give readers an accurate idea if what working as a solo developer is like. I want to offer a counterpoint to the polished highlights that are published on many developer’s sites, because we all know that in reality this line of work is often frustrating and rarely as easy as others make out.

Unfortunately, reading back through my articles I don’t think that they explain what I’ve been doing, or the challenges I’ve faced. There’s very little of “me” in them, and they could have originated from any other site.

I originally thought that long-form articles would help with this, as there would be plenty of space to expand my ideas and explain them to the reader fully. The reality is that producing this type of article every week isn’t feasible, so the articles become shorter and lack the depth I wanted. The process of editing removes much of the personality, instead optimising for clarity and factual correctness.

I do however have a plan. I use platforms like Twitter and Instagram not because of the networks that I get access to, but because of the type of content they allow me to publish. If I were able to publish those same types of content here, all mixed together in one feed I’d no longer have need of these social media networks and could inject some varied and rich content to this site. Think of it as Twitter, Instagram and Medium all rolled into one space. I can publish passing thoughts, photos of my wild-camping/mountain biking/coffee/etc and articles about my work…or about anything at all.

This is going to require some work, but I think will be worth it!