The Value of Starting

The Value of Stating

First posts are always hard. Important questions emerge. What do you write about? Should the tone be humorous or serious? What will people think?

I’m going to talk about the value of starting your project, regardless of it being a blog, website, or novel. Most times starting is more important than what you end up with in the end.

I’ll describe this the best way I know how, with a story.

When I started working as a programmer I was always worried about the correct way of doing things. I constantly thought about what languages, frameworks, or libraries I should use, what design patterns I should learn, and how I would scale my application if it got big. Then one night that all changed.

Late one Saturday night I was finishing a client project, which was due the following Monday. Per my usual, I had ingested a large amount of caffeine to get me through the tedious task of finishing 11th hour changes. My desk and walls were covered in notes and I was starting to get the jitters that accompany a caffeine crash. Anyone in this position knows how, at 5 in the morning while crashing on caffeine, the last thing you want to do is sort through a mountain of notes to find the one important one you wrote days before that you need to complete the project on time. I needed organization.

Thirty minutes later I had found the note and finished the project, but in that time I decided that I never wanted to search through a stack of papers again. I didn’t really want to code a note taking application but I had looked into Evernote and others and wasn’t happy with them. I still had too much energy to go to bed and was a bit headstrong from the joy of completing a project. So, without thinking I jumped in and started writing a note taking application.

I made a quick list of what it needed, what each note’s data structure should look like, and a basic design for it. I didn’t go through a full preproduction, I just planned the important parts and wrote a one sentence description of what my application would be: “Create, edit, and organize simple text notes.”

I started coding wildly, just getting things written.

About an hour and a half later I had a working note application. It had no security and no user management, but I was the only one with its URL, so it didn’t matter. I would add those features later. The application did what it was designed to do and nothing more.

I added my first note. As it appeared on the page I got a huge swell of satisfaction. I had written, from scratch, a tool that I needed in only an hour and a half.

Since then I have added more features and security to it and continued to use it. That application and all the use I’ve gotten out it would not exist had I not taken a leap and just started.

When it comes to most ideas everything can ultimately be fixed and refined after you have the basic structure down.

Starting is the key.

3 Comments

  1. Perfectly composed subject material , thanks for entropy.

  2. I would say you just hit the Nail on the Head for me!

    I have been busy with a project for one and a half years now and still not got anywhere… I have changed frameworks many times, read thousands of post on technologies and libraries, mapped out the program structure, and I have written a couple of lines of code 😛

    Every time I start, I think “What when this gets bigger, how can I write this to be more flexible and extendable”.

    While I think its worth considering, I have ended up with nothing cause “I just have not started”

    Thank you for your post, this is a great inspiration for me!

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