3 min read

Writing is learning is growing

I began writing publically back in 2010 and while my writing has continued virtually uninterrupted since then, it has changed profoundly in this time.
An old typewriter on a wooden desk
Photo by Patrick Fore / Unsplash

I began writing publically back in 2010 when I first published an article on the pros and cons of using the www subdomain. While my writing has continued virtually uninterrupted since then, it has changed profoundly in this time.

For one, I've become a vastly better writer (at least my mom says so). Doing anything consistently for more than a decade will almost inevitably lead to improvements. More interestingly, however, is how my reason for and thinking about writing has changed over the years.

I first began writing as a way to document technical solutions and decisions for myself. The idea was to have a sort of journal to consult whenever faced with a similar problem in the future, to have my own tried and true solutions readily available.

This later turned into a way to market my consultancy and freelance business. Content marketing is incredibly powerful and I got to experience this first-hand when recruiters would cite my own posts during job interviews.

(I'd be dishonest not to acknowledge that part of the drive also stemmed from the ego boost of the recognition. But that's a whole subject to itself.)

Nowadays, I approach writing from a very different angle: thinking and learning.

The obstacle is the way

It's said that if you can't explain something complicated in a simple way, you don't really understand it. I agree wholeheartedly and believe that writing is the ultimate test for this idea. (Along with having children who constantly challenge your understanding of the world with their remarkable questions.)

I've lost count of how many times I've sat down to write an article, only to realize that I have so many gaps in my knowledge and that there are so many details I don't fully grasp. What began as twenty-minute writing tasks quickly grew into day-long research projects.

While it might initially feel discouraging – you just want to hit publish and get on with your day – there's a lot of value to be harvested from these realizations. As Marcus Aurelius wrote, over two millennia ago:

"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."

I have learned so many things, so deeply, by pushing through these obstacles.

When I couldn't explain something simply, I paused writing and began learning instead. Switching back and forth between being the teacher and being the student has been crucial to my continuous improvement. Should it cease, so will my own development.

For this reason I've kept my own private Zettlekasten notebook for the past two years. It's been a great experience and I'll unlikely give that up soon. But it's not the same as sharing something publically with the world.

Publishing on the Internet adds an extra edge to the writing process. Like when participating in open source software, there's a little more pressure (however self-imposed) to go the extra mile and sharpen your creation just a tiny bit more.

For that reason, I've decided to create a new website – seastone.io – and you're reading its very first article. However, I hope this will only be the beginning for us.

Your part in this

I'm starting this blog today as a way to continue to challenge my understanding of the world and share my thoughts about it; specifically on how it relates to my vocation as a software engineer and tech leader.

My hope is that it will help me continue to grow for another decade, while I get to share some potentially useful or at least interesting ideas.

But I need your help!

While input (learning) and output (teaching/writing) are two integral parts of growth, there's a third vital piece: feedback. Without a mechanism to evaluate the results of my actions, how would I know when I succeed or when I fail?

This is where you come in. :) Will you be my sounding board?

The task is very simple: 1) subscribe to my newsletter and 2) reply to the question I send you in the intro email. That's it!

I would greatly appreciate it and you can unsubscribe any time. Plus, with some luck, you'll find something interesting in the process.