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Ben Hong
Ben Hong

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Progress Over Perfection

For those that have been following me for some time, this is approximately attempt #8 at establishing a solid writing ritual for my coding life. And while there's a part of me that feels ashamed of that fact, the fact this is yet another attempt at something I been failing at over the last two years encapsulates the essence of tonight's post.

Obstacles I Have Encountered

For each visible attempt you see here where I failed to establish a proper blogging habit, there were so many more false starts than I could possibly count. And while there are a number of reasons my efforts kept falling short, here are some of the biggest obstacles I encountered:

  • Fear of criticism: I was (and still am) concerned with the idea that I might write something that would draw criticism from the community or my peers. It is so easy for people to take things out of context these days and so many jump to conclusions without understanding the whole picture.

  • Someone else wrote about it: Every time I came up with a concept, I would see an article with a similar title or concept and give up on the idea since I felt like people would say that I copied that article or that I wasn't original.

  • But I need X feature on the site: The idea that my blog would be seen by my peers often paralyzed me because I was concerned it would be judged for:

    • Design aesthetics
    • Performance
    • Accessibility
    • Technical Architecture
    • Frontend Specialty I am not an expert in

The obstacles I mentioned above are just three of the biggest ones that come to mind. Before I move on to how I deal with them, I want to emphasize that I still deal with it today. The battle for me is far from over.

Techniques to Deal with Those Obstacles

These techniques are by no means bulletproof, but I hope that they help to serve as a beacon of light in the event you are dealing with similar issues.

  1. The concept of being "original" doesn't really exist. If you think about it from the perspective of writing a book, every story contains some element of some other book or story that existed at some point in the past.

  2. What matters is your perspective. The one thing that is original and unique is you. And even though a concept may have been explained a hundred different ways, what you have to remember is that your way could resonate with an entirely different audience.

  3. Remember the importance of zero to one. For those haven't read the book "Zero to One", the short version is that the impact of going from zero to one is incomparable to any other growth you could have. And so when you're faced with feature paralysis, the most important thing is to get your ideas out there. You can iterate on the rest as time goes on, but if your blog never goes up, there is zero chance that people can read your ideas.

And since I am still formalizing my techniques for dealing with the fear of criticism, I would just start by recommending that you turn off commenting on your blog posts. This has a number of benefits:

  • Comments on blog posts are hard to implement and those that are fairly easy to integrate like Disqus has some questionable tracking tactics that make me less than comfortable with subjecting my readers to.
  • You don't have to manage comments and random bots from spamming your comments
  • You avoid the trolls who want to hide behind their screens rather than engage you in meaningful conversation

Welcome to My Sketchbook

I believe I've written about this in some capacity before, but as Dave Rupert aptly put it, blogs are best treated as a "draft" folder. With the incredible amount of noise that we deal with, it's easy to feel like blog posts should be these perfectly edited articles that could be submitted for a Pulitzer Prize.

Maybe there are some who want to create the perfect blog, but speaking from personal experience, it usually leads to disappointment and frustration. Writing in itself is already difficult for most people, so to put pressure onto yourself to write magnificent works of art usually stops the idea from ever coming to fruition.

Frankly, I'm tired of having my ideas being killed off by the pursuit of some ideal version of the blog post. So I'm just going to follow my instinct and write as I'm inspired to. This means that:

  1. There will probably be grammatical mistakes. And if there are, feel free to let me know! I welcome that kind of feedback since I would like to get better at writing!

  2. Sometimes ideas will be half-baked. Similar to how an artist has a sketchbook for concepts that may one day become real works of art, treat the blog section of my site as my sketchbook.

And while there are some who may go on to write award-winning blog articles, what we have to remember is that practically no one ever starts there. So as a reminder more for myself than you, remember that:

The act of writing is more important than writing the perfect article

There will be a time and place for me to curate polished articles and tutorials, but this will not be the space for this. This is my place to write freely and share ideas. Looking forward to having you on this journey with me.

Cheers! 🥂

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