One of the neatest things I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing by combining my love for software development and professional blogging is to see how closely tied they are in art, form and function. The marriage couldn’t be more copasetic, and I’ve discovered that they complement each other and I can learn more about each respectively and dependently.
Taking it one step further, I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of a startup that leverages one of the top blogging platforms out there, WordPress, and I’ve spent ample time in the weeds developing both WordPress themes and plugins for the system.
Naturally, I’ve learned a lot and, just like how an auto mechanic knows a car better than the average driver, I’ve been blessed with an insider look into how the blogging system itself talks to the end-user.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: You can become a seriously better blogger if you code even a little bit. Below are a few ways development is similar to blogging.
An Affinity to Order
When you first start out, developing software is like swimming in a pool of ideas that somehow coalesce into something workable, pliable and functional.
As you mature, you find that you’re able to quickly increase your pace of development by systemizing your processes, taking advantage of existing structures, syntax, systems and frameworks to speed things up. That is, you produce order out of chaos.
The more order you bring to a system, the more manageable it will become.
As a blogger, your goal is create order in what you write so that your readers can reasonably understand what you’re saying. It harkens me back to my elementary school years where my teacher required me to create all those outlines before I actually started to write anything. You remember, don’t you?
Practically, this means that your blog posts need to be orderly, written in a pattern, rhythm and cadence that’s acceptable to the audience and the context you’re covering. The more you can lock into the acceptable pattern and order, the better and quicker your writing becomes.
Balance and Tension
Coding requires poise, nerves of steel, and a bit of luck to get it off the ground. Do it once and you’re hooked. It’s like a drug that satisfies but never completely satiates.
As you build more and more complexity into your system, the balance begins to wear and the tension begins to grow. Of course, all of this is to produce an excellent product that the end-user will enjoy, so you continue to muddle through the code to completion!
And like any good blogger, your content needs to strike the right balance and tension as it presents the information to the reader. Go out too light, and the reader finds it boring and not deep enough. They might even find you a tad bit boring as well.
Create too much irresolvable tension, and you won’t capture anyone long-term.
In literary terms, this is called the narrative, the overarching movement of the story, a beginning, middle, and end.
Code does that aplenty, and if you spent a little time walking through some code, then you’d come away with a fresh perspective that few bloggers have: an appreciation for the art and science of software narrative.
In time, this develops into even more mature thinking as you build out your blog posts. For example, you might even start thinking about blog series and putting more than one or two blog posts together. You might even string them out for over 50 posts at some point!
Just Ship It!
At the end of the day, the most important thing that any software developer needs to do is ship the darn thing. That is, they need to finalize the last semi-colon, make sure it works, and then give it to the public for use.
The never-ending battle within the soul of the developer is that he knows that his work is not completely finished nor is it absolutely the best thing since sliced bread — but they ship and launch anyways.
And bloggers can learn a thing or two here: I encounter tons of people that have the potential to become amazing bloggers if only they’d ship more. In other words, they need to let go of the fear of making a mistake and the pointless drive to perfection, and just simply publish their posts, even if they’re imperfect.
Many writers simply feel like they can’t publish anything that isn’t completely perfect. This is insanity in a box. A post will never be perfect.
On the other hand, a developer knows that the moment she ships it, she’s already fixing it.
You will become a better blogger if you learn to publish despite the voices in your head telling you that it’s not perfect, that it’s not quite there yet, and that it’s not your opus.
Then, you’ll find the next time to be easier, and then the next even easier, and heck, you might even wake up one day as a professional blogger.