Is this thing still on?

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I didn’t choose to stop writing… it just faded.

When I started this blog in 2009 I made the rule I had to post every day. It didn’t have to be something deep – and often it was just gym logs – but at least there was the discipline of a post every day: that I wrote one, that I published one, that readers saw (and maybe read). Come 2015, a major event in my life caused blogging to abruptly stop and my streak broken. That event lasted a while, and when I came back to it the spark was extinguished. Plus various things in life were changing and time and energy to write just wasn’t there. As of late, the blog’s just been nothing but Sunday Metal posts, which at least I was able to keep going because I could sit for a couple hours, schedule 6 months of posts, then move on.

A few years ago I had a major day job shift. I found myself writing less – or sometimes no – code at all. I was leading projects, considering bigger pictures, people-ing. Programming was a primary creative outlet for me – it’s my art. Solving someone else’s problem is merely my canvas. But as my day job duties shifted, so too did my creative outlet fade away. Oh sure I COULD do programming on nights and weekends, but in reality after a long day I want to get away from the computer, and my weekends are mostly filled up with teaching at KR Training. Then add in time for family, gym, etc. and there’s just not time nor energy remaining.

Oh sure, I did a complete rewrite of PanemQuotidianum in SwiftUI a few months back. That was fun. But interestingly it didn’t move me that much. As I’ve been telling people “Oooooh… yet another TableView”. It was cool to fiddle around more in the new hotness of SwiftUI, but there didn’t feel much challenge. It didn’t sing to me like programming once did.

I’ve realized… my creative outlets have faded. In fact, since taking on my new day job position as Director of Technology, all I do is meetings and people-ing. Don’t get me wrong, that in and of itself is fine for where I am in life – it’s just not an artistic/creative outlet.

I was lamenting to Mrs. Hsoi how I just don’t have any creative outlets any more. I don’t program nor have the time or energy for it. KR Training work is fun, but it’s work and not a lot of creative outlet (tho it has research outlets). The gym isn’t creative – it’s work, it’s fun, there’s satisfaction, but it’s not a place to pour my creative juices.

I started to think I needed a hobby – all my hobbies have turned into jobs/work. LOL I’ve always wanted to explore blacksmithing, but that’s not feasible right now. Working on engines was cool, but is that necessarily creative for me? And the more I thought about it, I realized it’s not a hobby I need.

I’ve noticed over the past some whiles as I take longer distance/time drives, I don’t listen to music or podcasts – I just think. I’m alone in the car, I can talk out loud, I can be silent, I can do whatever. I realize what I’ve been needing is just that: time to think. I spend all my days just acting and reacting to what’s going on (a fire over here, a problem over there, another meeting, etc.) – when do I ever get to just deeply think any more? I don’t. I miss that. My best work came from being able to just think about stuff. And it’s not something I can schedule: “Oh, it’s 10:00am, time for 1 hour of thinking!”. It’s about just allowing my schedule to have time to breathe.

The other day while driving to the KR Training facility it really hit me:

What I need: it’s not so much creative building, it’s creative thinking.

To program for the sake of programming – to make an app – that’s building. It’s not the building, it’s the thinking that goes into that building. Looking back, it’s why I have so many unfinished projects: it wasn’t about building that thing, it was thinking through a concept or a method or exploring or some other thinking, and once I finished that thought, it was done.

I’ve been collecting a lot of things in my notes – things that I would love to write about, but I don’t because of lack of time. But if I really look, I do have some time. I cut back on gym visits from 4x to 3x per week to better mesh with helping my sons train. But I still wake up early on Tuesday and Thursday, and I’ve found myself wasting that time because I don’t want to start the day job but I can’t do other life things either (e.g. make phone calls, schedule work, etc. because the people I need to talk with aren’t up and working yet). So I watch YouTube videos or other things to pass the time, and while a little relaxation is good, I’ve been finding myself feeling like I’m wasting time.

So… why not try writing again.

I’ve got things I want to write about. I’ve actually got a little time here and there.

I don’t plan on forcing myself to post every day or even every week. I have no idea what the cadence will be. I would like my writing to be better. This post is rambling because I’m just pouring my thinking out, and those posts are fine for what they are. But I also want to better compose particular thoughts. I want to see if I can be a better writer, or at least a more thoughtful one.

So let’s see… let’s see if this breathes life back into me.

6 thoughts on “Is this thing still on?

  1. Not sure if this will help you but I stopped developing professionally and started managing a long time ago. I still enjoy development and have, at various points, taken on small projects for the opportunity to learn new technologies.

    One thing I have been doing lately is contributing to open source projects. This has a bunch of advantages for me in my current situation:
    * I contribute what I want, when I want
    * I tend to contribute to smaller projects where there is not a lot of structure to deal with
    * My contributions can be small or large depending on my time and interest level
    * My contributions can often benefit many people giving me a sense of accomplishment
    * I have no responsibilities beyond my contributions so it never becomes a responsibility

    Glad to see you back!

    • When it comes to programming I’ve had some thoughts. First, that I may simply just not again and that’s totally ok. Second, to try to do another round of rewrites on my existing iPhone apps – again, modernization. Since they are my apps, I can work at my own pace, or even stop if I want to. Third, explore something totally different. I’ve been primarily in macOS/iOS/Android space – I’ve wanted to explore Golang and other backend solutions, since it’s radically different.

      Doing some open source stuff may be an option – hadn’t thought about it, but you raise a lot of good points!

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