I read a lot. I may have mentioned it before, but I really, really like to read. Few things in life are as satisfying as turning the last page of a very long book. Even fewer things feel as rewarding as turning the last page of a very long book that is the very last in a very, very long series.
Reading allows your mind to expand while you enjoy the telling of a good story. Story tellers were revered when human civilization was getting started. Throughout our history, we put those who can tell a story well very high in the hierarchy of life.
Stories that compel us to action are marvelous. Stories that inspire us to better ourselves are great. These kinds of stories motivate by peppering fragments through the telling that we can latch on to. The beginning and end may help frame it, but the meat of a story is what really hooks people.
I’ve found that a good story includes little nuggets that I can apply to my profession life as a developer. Most of the books I read are in the realm of High Fantasy, which surprisingly has many tidbits germane to coding. Sure, they don’t have computers to type away at, but so much of what I do as a developer revolves around things other than a computer.
While reading Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, which everyone should read once in their life, I came across this little sentence. It seemed innocuous at first, so I read it again. And again, and again.
“Careful planning was, indeed, the water that nourished innovation.”
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, page 412
In the paragraphs preceding the sentence, the speaker was discussing how orderly the military was. Normal cities grow haphazardly. In an often dirty profession, taking something as chaotic as setting up a military camp and making it into an orderly, neat establishment is an interesting contrast. By taking chaos and imposing order and organization, the speaker noted that so much more could be done.
This is something I see every day when I go to work. There are developers that pay little attention to thinking problems through, and struggle and refactor and refactor just to get something in a working state. There are other developers I see that have made a concerted effort to keep their workspace clean and their IDE concise, which produces succinct, working code.
Those that focus on clarity in their lives will produce code at a faster pace and higher quality than their peers that stumble through the daily grind.
I try to make a conscious effort every day to organize myself and my code. Taking even just a few minutes to build a foundation around which my ideas can flourish has paid huge dividends.
I’ll go into some of my strategies in the next set of blog. They may not work for everyone, but that’s fine. As long as a concerted effort is put forth that focuses on the outcome, good things will happen.
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