A few days ago I realized something. I don’t like writing. I realized it because I found creative energy to work on programming projects again, and I experience writing programs differently from how I experience having to write. Even the turn of phrase “having to write” betrays my disposition toward the craft.
Just wanted to say, I believe any creative work you do is highly impacted by both your skill on the type of work and your excitement about the subject. If you try to code something you're not interested in, it's quite painful. At least for me it is. With writing I believe it's the same. I'd guess your problem lies on the learning curve. You're good enough to notice the problems with your writing, but still not experienced enough to understand how to solve it without pain.
Programming sometimes feel like that, but I believe most people stop so early on the programming learning curve they don't even know that they suck. I mean, it took me some good 10 years of being paid to do this stuff before I actually started to understand lambda functions and ruby blocks and stuff like that, plus some 5 more years to actually force myself to write anything relevant in LISP and start breaking some preconceptions I had, add that to the about 5 years of scripting stuff (mIRC, some PHP etc) and it's 20 years, and I still haven't reached LISP Enlightenment... Most programming being done anywhere I look is actually a lot closer to scripting, so it's a lot easier to feel happy with your results, especially after you understand the more complex constructs and can easily understand you produced something better than 90% of what you see out in the world.
I say this based not only on my experience with many things, but based on may conversations with friends, especially about "talent" which is a subject I was very interested in at one point in time. I'm lucky enough to have many professional artists in my social circle (Though most are not very prominent, but they all do make a living off of their art and are really good, at least IMHO), and every writer, musician or drawing artist I know thinks the idea of talent is bullsh*t and people just get better at stuff when they practice, and they all agree that they only start enjoying it as they get better, be it people who play instruments professionally since as early as 6 years old or people who learned instruments after they were adults. Ultimately everyone I talked to concluded that the only limitation was perseverance, since the improvement and competence themselves brought happiness, even in cases where the person wasn't as interested in the subject (Bands where most/all of the family play together being the prime example I recall here).
To put it bluntly, I believe people should write only when they have meaningful things they want to say, but when they DO have meaningful things they want to say they should REALLY write it, even if they think it sucks and/or they can't properly explain and/or they don't release after all. Because that's the only way to gain experience and ultimately get to a point where they can be happy writing.
Your writing does matter, it was you that got me interested in LISP. Well ok, Paul Graham probably also had some influence, but I didn't write anything until I read http://www.defmacro.org/ramblings/lisp.html and this is what made me actually believe that there was a point in learning LISP, so I still think you were the biggest influence.
So I hope you continue to write, but as something to enjoy, and considering the eventual pains as part of the learning process. Pretty much like you did with LISP, according to your 2006 article I mentioned above.
I love your writing :)
The topics you pick is like nothing else I found on web.
I started reading a few months ago and when I read for the first time, I couldn't believe, that somebody is in very similar situation as me :) Nobody else says the things you say :)
It wasn't about the writing itself. Moreso that you had an interesting and unique perspective on things, but I understand the "I don't like producing bad work" thing. I'm the same way.
Supporting you was also never transactional (I.e. I pay, then I get a weekly essay). I viewed it more like a donation, because it's more like me saying "I like this, I'd like to see more of it".
Hi, just wanted to say thanks for writing so many clear, funny and interesting articles. Cheers, Oli
Hey Slava, just found this article via a rabbit hole of HN links. I was a big RethinkDB user, your first computer games customer I believe, back in the day and it was a real shame you guys had to wind it up. I remember telling David Helgason (Unity co-founder) that I think RethinkDB is the next big thing - I think I was right even though I wasn’t :)
Hope you are doing well, and look forward to seeing what you’re working on now.
The main difference I find between coding and writing is that with code I can understand the function and purpose of each line whereas with writing that's always unclear.