I feel like it might be quite cathartic for me to write about why I don’t like writing. Perhaps it will help me shed some demons or something. Who knows. Let’s find out.
I’ve always been an academic person. I did well at school and got great marks. I left primary school (age 11) with a level 5 SAT in English, which I was happy with. I thought I’d done pretty well in my Year 9 SATs too (age 14), until the results came. I was still a level 5 in English. I apparently made no progress over three years. That really knocked my confidence. Coming up to GCSEs, I began feeling nervous about the thought of English exams, and writing large amounts under pressure. I suffered from panic attacks, and my grades were sporadic. I eventually scraped C’s at GCSE, feeling very relieved that I wouldn’t have to sit another English exam again.
That SAT exam was nearly half my life ago, yet it still has a profound effect on me today. I feel like nothing I write is up to scratch, especially in a professional context. I rarely feel proud of things I’ve written, and I feel embarrassed reading things back that I’ve written in the past (even as I write this post, it’s starting to make me cringe). I’m my own worst critic, and I know that if I can get past that, I could write some good stuff that I could feel proud of.
I think the main thing I’ve got to do to beat this is practice. I often get stuck when trying to write something because I can’t think of how to word it properly and deliver the right tone of voice (I feel I often come across as cold and sarcastic when I’m trying to be genuine and helpful, especially in conversation). I also struggle with persona, and feel like writing isn’t my natural voice. Hopefully, the more I write, the more natural it will feel.
I think there’s a few points I need to bear in mind:
- This is just a blog. It’s not written in stone. Things can be changed.
- I don’t have to post reams of content every time. Short and sweet is fine too.
- Keep going. It’s easier than starting again.
The other reason for my fear of writing is judgement from other people. Not necessarily about the way that I write (I’ll worry about that), but if I expose gaps in my knowledge, or I misinform, or do something that is considered wrong. I saw this tweet the other day:
Found this programming gem from Reddit. pic.twitter.com/tGXaDr1Ddg
— Prisonscape (@Prisonscape) November 25, 2014
A lot of the replies suggested that this is a troll, or somebody whose been badly self-taught. I’m self-taught! What if I’m doing something like this and I don’t know it! What if people make fun of my terrible code and share it as a joke?!
Okay, maybe that’s an overreaction. I’m pretty sure most of my code is decent. The only way I can find out and get over the fear of being judged is to just post some code and see how many people try to correct it (hopefully in a constructive way). I’m sure many people get nervous when posting things for exactly the same reason, especially when sharing knowledge. We can’t get it all right.
This post has been a bit self-indulgent, as I’ve written it for myself rather than for the public. I’ve not written many posts on here yet but they have mostly been about me, which is good going to say I wanted this to be a development blog. I suppose it can’t hurt to add a few personal ones in too. I’ve found this post surprisingly easy to write, despite there being lots of awkward things for me to say. Now.. do I dare click ‘Publish’?