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Default to produce

Aug 22, 2017, 0:33

It's too easy to get into the habit of consuming by default: check email, Twitter, Facebook, Slack, Basecamp or a million other services designed to consume our attention. It's funny how “consuming” works both ways.

Producing by default, when you have to restore lost context to continue writing or programming, or drawing after switching away, is much harder, but it's a habit just like any other. Initial friction will go away and you won't feel resistance starting to re-explore your own, not someone else's, ideas.

I see that a lot in myself when starting to write code in an unfamiliar language. My intention is to write the best code I can. In order to do that, I need to read a guide, best practices, examples and try and build a mental scaffolding that will help me produce the code that I want.

But it's too easy to be stuck in the “research phase” as it's called, never doing the work. How am I going to be fluent in a language if I don't practice producing it? How am I going to produce if I don't know how to do that?

There's a catch. Reading leaves few traces in your mind, and when the time comes to write, you feel like gripping thin air, nothing comes out. Try writing the simplest things, make mistakes, no one is judging. Code is meant to be rewritten anyway.

Sounds simple? I get caught often. Just when I think I learned enough, I try writing and find I forgot almost everything that I've read. What was the point of reading then? I could spend that time writing, encountered the problem and would have read the answer the same way.

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