Every day I write code and love building feature “x” for web sites. I enjoy the projects and people that I work with that inspire me to write clean and highly functional code (in any browser, yes, even Internet Explorer). However, in a recent discussion with a good friend and colleague I realized that I need to start doing more than code at work and then code at home. There are far more interesting things to do than learning to be better at a skill while completely missing the point of unplugging and doing something different that allows your passions to deepen in new ways. The challenge he had setup for himself was to take up a hobby and while talking more about hobbies he mentioned that he wanted to learn to build a drone using Arduino, which is an open-source electronics platform. For him it was a way to connect and have fun with his family which bridged the gap between his need to unplug from work related coding projects and to learn something new. For developers we spend far too much time plugged into an online medium and it definitely drains our batteries not having the ability to do something different. We code in our spare time, start personal web projects, take on a few clients on the side, and eventually go back to work for 40+ hours to do the same thing over again. It burns you out when your personal and work lives collide in such a way that you can’t see the dividing line.
Personally, I started thinking of of taking up a hobby after talking with my friend, but the question I raised for myself was what hobby should I take up. I love coding and the freedom it provides in building something innovative, but in the long run it was starting to get old doing it all the time day in and day out. While slaving over the computer screen literally typing “hobbies” into Google (yes, I actually did that) I started combing through my Dropbox folder trying to figure out what I could do to unplug my mind from work and create a divide between my personal and work lives. I came across an old folder that I hadn’t touched in about 2 years called “Scrivener” and inside were all the old books and rambling thoughts that I wanted to write into books. Bam! (It hit me) I should get back to writing. I mean I went to school for creative writing and wrote for years before that. What had stopped me for the last 2 years? Work, marriage, and eventually life had all stepped in the way.
It’s funny that I carry around a Moleskine and a pen wherever I go, but rarely use either to capture my thoughts. I had at one point opted to use Evernote in concert with my phone in order to ensure that I wasn’t far from a way to capture my ideas and writings, but sadly that attempt had fallen by the way side when it came to time and focus. I even have a reoccurring meeting on my calendar every few days for a half-hour to sit down and write. Whether it was a blog post, chapter of a book, or some lines of verse I found it hard to focus and write. You could call it writers block, but I would coin it better as “writers fear” to which I was scared to write anything down. It was easier to go to bed early, watch a movie or show, or even code on the computer for an hour than sitting down to write. Though in keeping with my idea of not making new year’s resolutions I will not add “getting back to writing” as one of those. However, the need for a hobby still stands and writing seems to be the best outlet for those bent up frustrations and ideas brewing (or rotting) in my mind. I can decently string together sentences and as my wife would say, “as long as it doesn’t involve commas or general punctuation you would be a good writer.” So my challenge for the next week is to setup a writing regime and figure a way to stick to it no matter what.