Huib Schoots asked me the other day whether I was on a blogging spree. I provided him an answer. Well, I answered him over twitter. So, it was more than a shallow answer. I told him that he was only seeing side-effects of what I tried to do. Actually an example that he should focus on my outcomes rather than the outputs. Here is the longer answer.
Over the years, there is one thing that helps you improve your writing. I have read about this one crucial ingredient several times, in several books. Weinberg on Writing has it. The New Comedy Writing has it. It’s a similar thing that you need to become better at anything: experience. Experience in writing can only be gained by writing.
I noticed this years ago when I wrote ATDD by Example. Every night I was sitting down to get my head around the topic, and note down anything that came up. I pushed myself to write for an hour on the book every evening. Most of the times, I worked more than one hour on the book each night because the first hour only got me started.
In the past, I had cut down dramatically on my blog. I didn’t feel I had the energy. I didn’t feel I had something important to say. I felt that I had different priorities than maintaining my blog. Early in January this changed.
But what changed?
Over the past year I have read many books with Agile and Testing in the book title that made me sick. It seems Agile has become a large misconception. With more and more successes in the larger enterprise, it seems that more and more people sell their snake oil by putting in the term Agile.
That made me sad.
So, in the new year, I realized that I wanted to change that. I realized that I could change that. I realized that I probably have to change that.
So, what does that mean? First things first. My writing muscle was out of shape from exercising too few. So, in order to be able to write something, I needed to get myself back on writing. But how do you do that? Well, so far my tactic of fire-and-forget blog publishing stopped working. So, right now at this point in time, I have a backlog of scheduled blog entries for a full week. I get myself down daily, and write. That provides me enough relief and buffer if I don’t find the energy to sit down one evening, I can do that the next day, or so.
The outcome of this is that I can get back in shape for writing. I need to do that because I haven’t dealt too much with thinking through concepts. I actually need to write right now. Why? Ever since finishing Susan Caine’s book on introverts, I noticed that writing helps me to reflect over things. Also, over the day, I collect several things that are worth writing about, but lost the gift to really get my thoughts down. By forcing myself to sit down every weekday in the evening, and produce one blog entry, I went to re-built that ability. So far, there always has been at least one idea from the day that I could dive deeper into in order to reflect on my day. If there wasn’t, I also maintain a backlog of ideas because – you know – there are days where you can’t restrict yourself to a single idea for a blog entry.
When visiting the first few conferences, I remember that people approached me. “Hi, I read your blog, I love it.” I always joked that people shouldn’t tell me about it. I maintained my blog for my own. That helped me reflecting myself. If they told me, I would probably lose my energy for writing. It seems there is some truth in there.
Last week, a former colleague of mine approached me. He told me that he loved my blog entries, but people might become upset with the typos in it, indicating that I probably should pull in more proof-reading to get them out.
To say the least, I am not writing all this stuff for the outside world, but for me. I also never visit back my previous blog entries, and read them – most of them. I am grateful if you provide me specific hints about typos. But as these entries are a side-effect of what I really want to achieve, I really don’t care whether the number of my readers goes up or down. I keep an eye on it, and you can see me smile sometimes. But clearly: that’s not my key objective here. I am not writing this stuff down for you, dear reader, I am writing this stuff down for me. It helps me remain sane, and it helps me improve my writing skills in order to prepare myself for another step.
What’s that step? Glad you asked. Right now, I am preparing my brain for another book. Having received the Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person award last year – thank you all for that, by the way – I think I can change the world of corporate enterprise shallow agile adoption to a better place. I really want to stop the suffering I see around when consulting with various clients by under-informed and mislead agile introductions.
That said, I plan for another book. As I get more and more older, I figured I also become more and more heretic. That said – and the context-driven community is probably going to hunt me down for that – the current working title of that book that I came up with yesterday morning while running is “Software Testing – A profession that shouldn’t”.
I find myself deeply rooted in three different communities. That’s sort of a pity, since it gives you at least thrice the opportunities to visit conferences and publish articles and books. These communities include the Agile community, the Software Craftsmanship community, and the software testing community. Since quite a while I came to realize that these are deeply connected to each other. I think it’s time to get my thoughts down on that. These blog entries are my exercise for that.
That said, over the next few weeks, you might or might not see me keeping this pace. I don’t know what the future holds. So, I might find that now’s the time to start this thing. I am currently heavily feeling overloaded with work on the other hand, and I don’t know yet what I will do to find a sustainable pace again. I am not committing to anything in this blog entry. That said, in some more days to come you might find that I produce less and less here. That might be an indicator for one of the following.
Maybe I started writing that book finally. I put my head around the topic, and was able to get an initial draft for a book down. At that point I might immediately stop blogging on a daily basis.
Maybe I just found myself between work, live, another expected newborn, and the other stuff that’s up my sleeve right now, and found that I should cut back seriously on some of that stuff that I really don’t need to do right now. Maybe then I will stop producing blog entries on a daily basis.
Or maybe I just lost interest in that topic, and moved on. I found my energy currently lies somewhere else. Then I will stop blogging on a daily basis.
The bottom line: I don’t care too much whether you are happy or unhappy with what I am writing. I have a different goal right now. I don’t care too much whether I now set high expectations for a book you want to read. I might or might not produce it. These days, I seem to be attracted to overload myself. Don’t count on anything right now. Still, I find it’s something I need to do right now, and I have fun doing it. Sorry for any inconveniences.