How to Blog

Practicing thinking how to best to provide value

As a programmer, I enjoy considering the solution of writing software to solve problems. If I’m trying to help my friends with developing their wardrobe, do I really need to build an app for that? Is that the most effective use of my time? Maybe all they need is some structure of thought and a simple blog post.

Practicing delivering value without needing a “finished” solution

It’s good enough to solve someone’s problem and is useful for them. OK, so maybe I don’t need to make an app, but do I need to provide images in my blog posts? Maybe I don’t have an image available right now, do I wait until I have one ready to publish?

My post about Hong Kong was written a few days before my sister’s trip out there. I could have scrambled to get some things together, but really, she just needed a list of great restaurants (YUM) that I could recommend to her. Mission accomplished. Value given and received.

For the next person that asks me about Hong Kong, though, and needs some ideas on what to do, it may make more sense for me to upload some sweet photos of Suicide Cliff.

Iteration

Some of posts are just a bunch of bullet points. I’m not shy to just post them just that way if they’re providing value. However, I’ll go back and edit them and flesh them out if I get a drive to do so or if I hear from folks that they’d like to understand some things more.

You’re not writing a great literary work. You’re not writing an essay for your English AP class. These can be rough drafts and still be useful for people.

I’ve been trying not to nitpick too much and just post things. I think of each post as something I can come back to and revise. I don’t do it for all of them, but once in a while I come back and add some things and make updates.

Just Fucking Ship

In software engineering, I often consider the danger of what I call Code Constipation. You get code stuck in your long running branch or even code that’s committed onto master but hasn’t been deployed. It provides no value to users.

You’ve gotta get those ideas out there. Don’t let yourself get Idea Constipation. If at least one person finds what you’ve written valuable, you’ve succeeded.

Why Blog?

For me, I have several reasons:

  • A place to file thoughts I just gotta put them somewhere, otherwise they’re taking up space or cycles turning in my mind. This can be done in my own private journaling as well, but when I find that my idea may be valuable to other people, it’s worthwhile to blog it out.
  • Practicing providing value without coding. As I noted about, I have a bad habit of wanting to start projects or write code. This helps direct that creative energy so I can start the path of a project without needing to commit too much. If an idea simmers away, at least it just costed me a bit of time writing a blog post rather than a weekend of figuring out my npm dependencies.
  • Staying mindful of the present moment. It’s a productive way to acknowledge my (crazy) ideas while staying present in the moment. There’s a whole lot of thoughts coming my way from this hyperactive mind of mine. Sure, I can do the meditative thing and accept the ideas as they come and let them go and be free. When the same thoughts start coming up over and over again, though, it ‘s a sign to me: write a blog post! I enjoy it in its own sick way.

Who am I writing for?

I think it’s easy to get stuck in considering this and end up not wanting write at all. From my own purposes for blogging, it doesn’t really matter. I’m actually finding myself veering toward certain groups here and there along the way, but I currently don’t have a defined audience. That’s totally OK for me.

Sometimes, it’s been for people who ask me a question, and I realize I have a lengthy answer that can be more easily communicated via text than a conversation. Sometimes, I realize I’m having a conversation that’s helpful for many people besides the person I’m talking to and end up writing a post about it. Sometimes, it’s just something I wanna blabber on about cause it’s in my head. Sometimes, it’s pretty much a copy/paste from an email that I wrote someone that I thought would be interesting to share with others (I wrote it already!).

In fact, the above paragraph was directly copied from an email I sent to a friend who asked me about blogging!

What do I write?

I think of my blog posts as outputs from conversations with people, thoughts I’m spurred to share with others, and questions that friends end up asking me. If someone comes to you for advice on something, it probably means they think you’re an expert at that. Sounds like a great blog post!


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