My motivation for blogging has changed over time. I’d like to revisit my initial reason, and discuss how this changed while maintaining the blog. After all I keep posting articles on here, something has to keep me going right?
We can read my original motivation. The initial goal was to make money apparently1, through ads or Patreon. T-That didn’t work out so well. I now realize it’s quite hard to make money with blogging, you’ve to be really good! I’m not, and that’s okay. Furthermore from ads you need tons of visitors to get even the smallest amount of money. And for patreon to work you need to make something for a niche audience, and captivate them, I think at the time I didn’t really know what that would entail. Similar to patreon would be to use substack, however that didn’t exist at the time.
Another romantic desire not listed in that post was being remembered after my death. For example consider “Commentarii de Bello Gallico” (Commentaries on the Gallic War). People still read that 2000 years after Ceasars’ death. I was fascinated by this idea, to have your words echo trough the ages.
To achieve this I knew my writing skill had to improve. I hoped that trough blogging I’d get better. I knew my first posts wouldn’t be interesting or engaging, but I could learn from each post. So once I got this going, I placed google analytics on it, and soon realized no-one was reading this blog. I published something on the internet and no-one was reading this! I gained some solace from having carved out my own private corner, so cozy just for me. I learned at the beginning of 2017 the internet was already too big. Still my goal was to be an attention whore, and to get that you /need/ to post your content on aggregator websites like reddit or Facebook (depending on your audience). Peeps aren’t going to type in
jappie.me magically in the URL bar, and Google ain’t just gonna find you without some links pointing to you.
Getting a big name that last trough the ages was a goal of Jappie from 2017/2018, I don’t think this is no longer a goal of mine. Once I’m dead, well, I’m dead. You can remember me all you want, that ain’t gonna bring me back, and who wants to go back anyway?
Although my desire for being remembered has faded, I still want to get better at writing. Because I feel this still covers up flaws I have. For example, I’m quite bad at self promotion. I started seeing blogging as a sort of propaganda machine 3, that would represent me so I didn’t have to. In real life2 social interactions, I often come across as doubtful on my skills, and I’ve trouble of thinking what to say in conversations. Furthermore, I don’t enjoy convincing that others I’m any good at anything, because that feels like bragging to me. However, as a programmer you pretty have to do this. For example during an interview, or when trying to get another assignment.
So rather then changing my personality, I realized I could get better at writing, The blog was a great compromise.
Ironically, trough writing I discovered I enjoy writing. I get a lot of pleasure out of being precise. Merely putting my thoughts onto paper is apparently a step up in precision and clarity. It’s quite shocking and enlightening at the same, to see how chaotic and rambly your own thoughts are once you start putting them in words on paper. After a mere day of writing a passage you may question who wrote that, because it looks so foreign to you. This is especially true with fleeting thoughts.
But I’ve also noticed that converse on topics I’ve written about is quite easy. This has been a huge benefit for me. No longer I’ve to think of what to say, but I can fully focus on how to say it. Especially during interviews where the other party has decided to read what you’ve written about. In those cases, conversation becomes a breeze! This truly is an unintended consequence, but I guess blogging has helped my career.
Another use of blogging is letting out professional frustration in a constructive manner. For example the failing in haskell post was directly due to error handling encounters in professional code bases. Explaining this in painful detail.
This also happened with the stack dependency management post at the time. Both these posts have seen a lot of user interaction as well, people started debating about it on reddit or hackernews for example. So not only does this help me vent, it also gets my name out there! However I feel it’s not the best idea to become a divisive-andy. Because I don’t think it’s an explicit goal of me right now is to make this blog popular. After all this is my corner of the internet. I like the feeling of putting words out there that no-one reads. Making this blog popular would put pressure on me to write popular content. But I want to write abut what I want to write, not what’s popular. I could’ve written more about elm for example, because that elm on fire post was quite successful. But after making fire, my interest faded, and so did my motivation.
I did notice however that once I got a blog post out on something which frustrates me, the frustration goes away. It simply no longer bothers me, because as far as I’m aware this is the most impactful thing I can do to solve an issue. If publicly complaining about something, putting my name on the line, doesn’t help, what will?
Interestingly I noticed another reason to blog lately. I enjoy reading back my old articles! Remember that time I immigrated to australia for a year to do programming there? Or doing a cute lil’ tool survey back in 2017 for example. At the time I thought I was using some awesome stuff. Now I know it’s a rather basic setup. My nixos based configuration is far more powerful and flexible for example.
I should make more of these slice of live posts. I’ve been only doing technical stuff the last couple of years, and to be honest, I like writing about my own live as well.
It’s one thing to write a coherent story, it’s another thing to make that story interesting. Imagine shakespeare being writtin as a cooking book:
Start the thunder and lightening. Grab a first witch, a second witch and a third witch. Let the first witch say: When shall we tree meet again, in thunder lightening or rain.
It’s boring! Just like when talking about programming, we need to make it interesting. The solutions described in programing langauges are meant for machine consumption mostly, writing them down in natural langauge is a completly different excersize. You can be much more lax in natural langauge than in programming. A misspelled word? That’s fine, the reader will be a bit frustrated but it doesn’t break the meaning of the story. You can’t get away with that in programming.
However, in programming you don’t have the problem of keeping your audiences’ attention. Are you using a disgusting font on your blog? No-one is going to read that. Are you re-using the same vocab over and over? I’m gonna stop. You need to write interestingly, which is much harder than just doing something grammatically correct.
This is what most business writers don’t get. Dumping a bunch of jargon in your post is going to shoo away people. Using politically correct opinions is boring. You have to take a position to attract an audience. This is hard.
I write for self promotion, to vent, and for fun. I think writing is difficult, but I enjoy it. Writing something interesting is even harder, but I feel it’s well worth the exercise.
Do you feel writing is fun, or perhaps boring? Or do you also have a blog? Please let me know in the comments below!