Recently, a successful local designer asked me whether I got up in the morning and immediately started coding, or was I the type that slept in a bit and coded all night long.
This is probably a common question, but it threw me a little, because it seemed so binary in its implications. My response was that I tried to begin each morning by writing, when it was still quiet, before the working day started. I think this response also threw my designer friend a bit.
There’s a morbid fascination with workaholism as a badge of honor in our industry. My feeling is that you need to reflect often on what you’re trying to achieve, or you end up redoubling your efforts while losing sight of your original goals.
The writing thing is something that I’ve always done anyway. But when writing is a priority, it seems to focus your thoughts on who you’re trying to reach, and what you want to say to them. It helps you see what needs addressing. It helps you to teach yourself while you’re teaching others. It helps you crystallize your thoughts in a way that many people do not.
Writing seems to be secondary to doing in web culture. But it seems like a lot of bad ideas and wasted time could be avoided by thinking for a half hour and just getting stuff down on paper. We celebrate hackathons than happen for no other reason than to crush code, but no one knows who those people are unless they are another hacker.
There’s very few thought leaders that are inarticulate. The people who give us ideas and shape our industries are those who make the time to write each day. How valuable is it to share ideas or educate to you or the people you work with? Is it a priority, or is it an afterthought?
The work is always going to be there. You can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and still find things to do. Time is a vacuum that we insist on filling. If we don’t fill it, we feel worthless, or we fear others will deem us worthless. As a survival instinct, we work harder and harder to keep running in place. That’s brutal.
Carving out time to write isn’t something I thought of on my own. It’s something that I saw a ton of other people who seem to be getting somewhere talk about. I try things to see how they work — hacking the laws of the Universe, if you will. So far, it seems to be working out. You’re reading this right now, after all.
So, I encourage you to try writing a bit each day. Even if you never publish anything, it will make you a better critical thinker, and quite possibly open a door or two for you. Writing things down makes them more concrete — it brings them into reality. It enables your ideas to be spread.
That work will always be there, but if you don’t decide for yourself how to use your time, someone else will.