A Boy Scout camp out. A thrown out back. Grading and reviewing students for Test Design class. Being sick. recovering from being sick. Catching up for work from being sick. A conference call. Multiple holiday parties on successive days. Helping to hang lights for one of the multiple parties on successive days.
What do all of these things have in common? Well, first, they are part of the reason for an unintended but perhaps much needed break from blogging. I say that because, honestly, I realized I’ve posted over 100 blog posts in ten weeks. That in and of itself is not a huge deal, and it’s been helped a lot by the fact that I have been posting daily synopsis of two books for much of those ten weeks, but it left me a bit stretched and somewhat fatigued, and in need of a recharge. The truth of the matter is, it was all an unintended but somewhat convenient way for me to avoid and delay my doing a project for “Learn Ruby the Hard Way”. Yep, I fell prey to the very advice that Zed warned about. Which advice is that?
One final word of advice: Every programmer becomes paralyzed by irrational fear starting a new large project. They then use procrastination to avoid confronting this fear and end up not getting their program working or even started. I do this. Everyone does this. The best way to avoid this is to make a list of things you should do, and then do them one at a time.
Looking back, this is exactly where all of these things became convenient excuses for me to not start a big project. There would always be tomorrow. I’d be inspired after I got through this recent challenge that I had to take care of. I’ll hit it as son as I feel better. No, as soon as these holiday parties are over. Ten days pass, and nothing. Well, I shouldn’t say nothing, really. I have ideas, many unfocused. I have a vague framework in my head, but no firm commitment and, worse, no tangible code towards this challenge. I’ve been coding for work, and I have some better appreciation how to do things in the Cucumber and Capybara world now, but I’m still in the same old place I always find myself in. I’m good at modifying other people’s code, but I’m awful at starting my own.
Also, I’m guilty of breaking my own covenant with myself. I said I would post the good and the bad of this process, and here’s where the truth of the silence comes out. It’s easy to post if the project is easy, or if the challenge is something I can overcome in a few hours or turns out to be trivial. It’s another thing to post and say “well, I have another excuse as to why I didn’t do what I said I’d do, and here it is.” I didn’t want to have to write that, so I kept saying I’d make my “mea culpa” when I completed the project and post it. Even under this “personal delusion”, I didn’t think I’d be seeing a ten day break between posts.
So I’ve decided it’s time to go back to my original plan. This blog is my accountability partner, and more to the point, to all who read this blog, you are all my accountability partners, too. Therefore, I hereby bring myself back to the original plan, and I’m not going to wait until “tomorrow” to post what I should be doing, I’ll continue it here, and here starts today.
My first “problem” was that I got hung up on how I would map out the program I intended to write. I hate doing flow charts and all of that, so I was delaying getting started on the flow chart. Then I was wondering what I would use for the flow chart. Then I fell into an utter lack of imagination as to how I was going to actually pursue my original plan of walking through a haunted house. From there, it was always a “wow, that’s going to take a long time, I better hit this tomorrow”… and tomorrow never came.
I’ve made points in this blog many times that I do this blog and I talk about these things not because I am good at this stuff, but because I’m exceptionally bad at doing this stuff at times. Still, I maintain that the same tools work in these cases. Having a public face, being publicly accountable, and being willing to say “OK, I messed up on this, but I’m going to get back into the swing here and now and keep going” helps do exactly that.