This is a reminder for myself as much as anything else. With my meeting schedule and responsibilities it can be easy to avoid blogging for weeks at a time. However, I think that is a mistake – and I want to record why. In fact, blogging about not blogging is a meme all bloggers seem to fall into at one stage or another, so this might seem a little trite. My excuse is that I’m encouraging my team to consider blogging more themselves (and I need to kick my own backside from time to time too!).
In summary I think the Reasons to Keep Blogging are:
- Mental health/sharpness
I have had the unfortunate experience of working somewhere for a relatively long time (5 years) and then being retrenched through no fault of my own. What I found was that I had been ignoring my career in general in favour of my career in the company that employed me.
Let me unwrap that a little. It is easy when working for someone to find yourself learning just what you need to for the tasks at hand. To restrict your professional relationships to colleagues and clients. To ignore new ideas that are not acceptable where you work. To stunt your growth in other words.
Just as it’s important to have a life outside work, it is important to have a professional life outside of work. If you get to know people outside your normal range of professional contacts, explore ideas outside what is needed for work and generally get interested in your industry then it is surprising how much more effective it makes your job search chances later.
For information works, especially creative types like developers, blogging can be a very effective way of building a portfolio of work and ideas that future employers can be impressed by. As an employer, I know that it also helps potential employers validate their face to face opinion of you.
As a creative type you need to keep your mental faculties well exercised and challenged. Work is not always the best place where you can get a chance to push yourself. Sometimes it helps to try something in public, but not to have too much hanging on the result.
Use your blog as a place to explore new ideas, techniques and ways of doing things. It is not just the content that needs to be fresh, so does the design and layout of the site. (reminder to self: take your own advice!)
Don’t just blog on your own. Leave comments on other people’s site and link your name back to your blog so people can come see more of what you think if they liked it. Get into conversations, write articles criticising other’s ideas, commenting on them, stretching them, validating them, taking them further, or writing them off.
In other words, get involved with people.
Sometimes I wish I’d record how I fixed something, or where I found an idea out, because often I need it again later and can’t find it (easily). I discussed this with Neil Houghton the other day, sometimes you use a nifty technique in apiece of code, but then requirements change and it gets deleted, and you;re left hunting through sourced code control (Subversion in our case) to find it. Far better to make the effort to blog about it, and then some other poor schmuck might get help too!
Aaaah the “D” word. Need anything else be said?
Self-discipline is something to be much admired, the enemy within is always vastly more difficult to conquer than the one without. But it seems to have a bad name.
Discipline is not about some rigid, heavily controlled lifestyle that simply denies and restricts our actions to the ones most acceptable, or least harmful to others.
Discipline is useful because it builds up the strength of will, and willpower is often the only difference between success and failure. Can you keep going even when you fail? Does one loss make you a loser? I think discipline is the habit of trying to succeed just one more time. It is denial, and restriction, but the purpose behind it is to do what we really want to do and not get distracted by the unnecessary, the mundane or the superficial.
If you really want to blog, if it fulfils one of the purposes I’ve outlined above, then you will find that continuing to do it helps build in you the discipline needed to do other things you really want to do. And that is the best reason I can think of to keep blogging.