I received this question from a reader and dear friend, and I know they aren’t alone in feeling this way.
I really want to start writing about code + architecture, but whenever I think of a topic I want to write about, I’m inundated with thoughts of “so many people have written about this and my thoughts won’t compare”. Any advice on coming up with topics or beating down that thought process?
I’m hearing two different points here: “So many people have written about this”, and “my thoughts won’t compare.” One has to do with competition, one has to do with confidence. Let’s address them separately.
To the first, “so many people have written about it.” This is a fear we invent that doesn’t hold up to reality. The internet is so vast, there is always room. I just looked on Dev.to and one of the top posts this month is about the basics of DNS. Not a new idea, but it still got thousands of readers.
Why did this get traction? Because many people may not have heard about it yet, and if they did, maybe they did not hear it explained that way. There’s value in adding to the conversation with your own voice.
I also see the amount of content on the internet as a benefit, not a worry. Everyone has probably seen about .00000001% of what’s out there, so there is a chance that you are still providing new information to people. You mention writing about code & architecture, but I see little if any content about that. Personally, I’d love to see more stuff about architecture. I feel like a majority of the content I come across is ”How to build X with [INSERT FRAMEWORK/LIBRARY/MODULE HERE]”. I’d rather read about more evergreen, higher-level skills. So if there is content out there, then there is an audience out there not getting it. They are waiting to hear from you.
To the second, “my thoughts won’t compare.” Like before, this hypothesis doesn’t hold up when tested. Putting work out there is 90% fighting a mental battle. I’d highly recommend The War of Art to learn more about this battle. Creativity is a battle between two voices in our head, The Muse and The Dragon. The Muse compels us to create, while The Dragon tells us people will judge our work, and us. Together, they tell us that doing our most valuable work is also the most dangerous thing you can do. You feel guilty when you don’t publish and anxious when you do.
All creatives face this struggle. It doesn’t get easier. You have to face The Dragon every day. He’s gaslighting you. What he’s telling you to be afraid of isn’t real.
What’s the worst that could happen? Does no one read your article? Literally no one? Even if a few people read it, that’s valuable. No one is going to read it if you don’t write it easier, so you have nothing to lose there.
Are you wasting your time? When you write, you are clarifying your thinking, and adding to your body of work. 90% of developers don’t write at all. Showing your expertise helps show potential clients and employers that you are able to communicate ideas clearly.
Is it bad and embarrassing? Again, this is probably in your head and not reality, but if it truly is that bad, you can delete it. The internet forgets. That’s the benefit of diving into a vast ocean.
So you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. 🙂