Bharani from India is a novice tester who appears to have a lot of energy. She recently emailed me this:

Sir, I need one small tips. As a, new tester how should they improve to became sharp and clever in the testing field.
 I mean that, What is their homework. what they should do daily…without skipping
For ex: like normal daily activities. we have to do exercise….so..
I mean that, what is the testers daily activities?

I am asked many questions by testers. This particular one reveals a lot about the questioner. For one thing, she thinks differently, because I have never been asked this. And it’s a question about discipline, so perhaps she’s a tester who is truly serious about developing herself.

My first answer is the same as the one my world famous writer of a father so often gives: write.

Write every day.

For me this takes the form of carrying my Moleskine notebook everywhere I go (now with a bandolier for my pens!). Whenever I find myself with a few moments, I make notes of my thoughts about testing and technical life. My notebooks serve as one source of great new ideas for my consulting and teaching.

But for testers, there are a few more practices to keep in mind…

Watch yourself think ever day.

While you are working, notice how you think. Notice where your ideas come from. Try to trace your thoughts. This is not easy. You have to practice to improve your skill of self-observation.

As a tester, you must become an artist of your thoughts, you must learn to see the structure and gain control of the structures by which you notice what no one else notices. These structures are not simply “intuition” or “common sense.” We can do better than that.

Question something about how you work every day.

Testers question things, of course. That’s what testing is. But too few testers questions how they work. Too few testers question why testing is the way it is.

For example: Why do we talk about tests “passing” and “failing”, instead of talking about whether there are problems? Do all bugs need to have steps to reproduce? How do we decide when to write a test down and what steps need to be written?

Explain testing every day.

The ability to explain testing is linked to nearly every other testing skill. Even if no one makes you explain your methodology, you can explain it to yourself. Do that. Practice doing it by voice and in writing. Don’t rest with buzzwords. Don’t tell yourself that you did “black box testing.” Break it down. Explain what you did specifically and explain why you did it.