Hello World, again!
by Bart Verkoeijen
A few weeks ago I saw my very first website again, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive. It sparked nostalgia and it also reminded me on how much fun I had publishing to the web. That got me thinking.
Thinking why I stopped writing, even though I had such fond memories of it. The pandemic gave me that opportunity to pause, reflect, and realize what things I used to value. Glad to see that something good is coming out of this mess.
I’ll list out my motivations, as a reminder for myself, and it may possibly inspire you to take up blogging too, dear reader.
The enjoyment of writing
Back in 2002 when I was a student, I was experimenting a lot with the web. Learning about HTML, CSS, PHP and documenting the process. I shared my experiences on a particular forum (good old phpBB) with other developers in the Dutch web community. People had feedback, got inspired themselves, and there was always a healthy discussion. That motivated me to take up a career in web development. I believe that positive experience led to a positive association to writing for me.
However, there’s more depth to it than that, and that leads me to these benefits.
Taking a moment to dig a bit deeper to find out why things are the way they are, can lead to a breakthrough in my thought process. Too often in this fast paced world we take things for granted. It helps to make time to allow for our mind to wander, to go into different directions, and spark innovations. Investigating deeper, learning about things. I find that unearthing something new feels fantastic. It probably has to do something with dopamine, my guess.
Calm the mind
Putting thoughts to paper helps to put my mind to rest. Knowing that the thoughts are deposited somewhere, ready for the taking later. Especially since I’m a knowledge worker, having to work with my mind all day.
This means that the writeup may not be intended for others to read. It’s okay when there isn’t an immediate audience. I do it for self care.
Formulating words in a cohesive, short, and informative matter helps my overall communication skills. Going from rambling thoughts to manicured words takes practice. After writing more, I’ve observed it becomes easier to immediately formulate my thoughts. That helps me to have better in-person conversations too.
The reward of writing
Looking back at when I was writing those years ago, and also thinking of similar experiences doing talks and presentations, there are nice rewards to reap after putting in the effort.
Progress as a motivator
It is motivating to see how I’ve grown and made progress over the years. Especially when in the tech industry it’s hard to avoid the imposter syndrome. Moreover, it invokes nostalgia, and is a good reminder that in life it is about the journey, and not the destination.
I’ve often spent countless hours resolving a problem. When I do finally find the solution, the achievement can feel empty. Not all tech solutions surface itself in the UI, and documenting it in writing can give that sense of accomplishment.
There have been times I found my own StackOverflow answers after an internet search. Or have been able to help a fellow dev pointing to my experiences. With a catalog of blog posts it becomes easier to tap into my past experiences.
The side-effects of writing
There are benefits of not keeping my thoughts to myself. It’s a vulnerable but humbling experience. It’s similar to speaking. Anyone who has stood in front of a large audience preaching their thoughts knows the anxiety. But also likely experienced the appreciation you get in return.
Software development is quite a solitary job. It is nice when I can reach out to other like-minded people. Confirmation and constructive feedback can help everyone grow. Being a lone wolf doesn’t help. Opening up to others broadens my horizons.
In addition it will grow my professional network. It allows me to meet other inspirational people. Especially when I share my content on other professional social networks also.
And finally, after a while documenting the processes and problems and solutions I encounter, it becomes a nice showcase of my experience. Something that can’t easily be shared in a job interview. Therefore the blog becomes an extension of my CV.
This should all be plenty of reasons to keep me motivated to persist with writing on this blog. Looking forward to the journey ahead, and thank you for joining me on the ride.