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Greg Bulmash 🥑
Greg Bulmash 🥑

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Meetups as a tool to break a creative block

This weekend I went to the NodeSchool Seattle meetup. Did I need to learn Node.js? No. I’m not an expert, but I’m good enough for most tasks. Why I went was because I was blocked on what to do on weeks 4 and 5 of my Node class for kids at Seattle CoderDojo, where we’ll be building an interactive website. I needed to break out of my block.

I love conferences and meetups because I leave them energized. Being around a group of other devs who are all geeking out on the same topic somehow aligns the neurons of my brain in the right direction.

The main point of a Nodeschool meetup is for developers who are learning or leveling up on Node to be able to come together, work on any project from the Nodeschool menu, and have experienced developers on hand to help them get started and over hurdles… much like the “Hacker Room” at Seattle CoderDojo in recent years.

We started with a speaker on GraphQL, but that was elective. There were definitely some people who were into it, like my tablemate. But though the speaker had been part of the draw for me, that afternoon I just felt myself drawn to the testing lesson on the Nodeschool menu. So I followed it.

Now you might think that I was then inspired to create a testing section for my Node class. No. It wasn’t what I was studying, but the places it took me and the energy of the room. I started thinking about expanding the message wall we’d build with Gravatars (because of Gravatars on some of the pages I went to looking for reference on the Nodeschool topic) and simple message threading (based on the snippets of discussion about GraphQL – though I won’t get that advanced with the kids).

Could I have done a Nodeschool lesson at home? Yes. Would it have put me in a room full of people trying to write code and build skills, in a room where someone was talking about the uses of GraphQL? Would working at home have put me in the same headspace? No.

Right now I’m in my home office, my 10 year old son reading on the couch, my dog napping at his feet, and my mechanical keyboard’s clacky clicks punctuating Paolo Conte’s gravel voice. But sometimes it’s good to go out and listen to a talk, be in an atmosphere of learning and exchanging ideas, change up the energy and the inputs, and see where it takes you.

And that’s just one of the many reasons I love meetups and conferences.

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