How to keep yourself motivated for blogging?
You got your programming blog, but you don’t blog too much? You don’t feel like doing it? What can you do about it?
There is a reason why you started or want to start blogging. Write it down and remember why you are doing something, what you are doing it for. It might be:
- you want to change a job, you don’t like your team, you don’t enjoy working with, you want to work in a better team, more experienced or in a different technology
- you get nicely paid but your work is boring, blog is a way to escape it for a little time and do something more interesting, something different
- you want to get your first programming job
- you want to speak at programming conferences
- travel around the world
- be recognized as an expert, as a valuable member of your programming language community
- you need clients as a freelancer
- you want to start a programming agency, have your own team
- you want to help other developers write better code and stay connected with them
Whatever your goal is, remember about it. There is something you are trying to achieve here. There is a dream you have. Don’t forget the dream.
For me this is Independence. I like to organize my time, my tasks and doing things that I like ;) Without anyone telling me what to work on, how fast, in which way. This drives me. When I remind myself why I am doing what I am doing, why I am blogging, recording, writing a book, coding right now, it gives me a boost. There is more energy and less apathy.
Track your progress and have a reminder
Say you want to deliver 20 blog posts in a year. Around one every second week. Set up a reminder in Trello or Google Calendar or printed calendar, whatever you use. It’s important for you to see a scheduled block of time for writing or a deadline for delivery.
Timebox and reward
You need to find your style of work. Do you like to schedule an hour or two, focus on a single task and be done with it? Is that your style?
Or do you prefer to work in many smaller chunks of work? Here is one technique that I sometimes use:
- watch a Netflix episode (usually 30-60m)
- spend 10-30min on blogging
- watch another Netflix episode
- optionally spend time on blogging again
It works for me because:
- usually after a single episode I am already more relaxed and less tired to deliver something
- I know I won’t be blogging (which requires mental energy) for long. I timebox it.
- I anticipate a reward, the next episode is waiting for me. I gave myself permission for it.
In other days I use a different technique. I schedule a dedicated two-hour block of time and I immerse myself in writing.
Find out what works best for you.
Remember about your other dreams
The number 1 reason I am lazy and I don’t want to do anything, including writing a blog-post? Not enough joy. I sometimes forget to have fun myself during a whole week. It happens sometimes when we chase our goals and dreams but we don’t appreciate what we have, we don’t stop to notice and use what we already achieved. It’s the routine killing us.
You know the drill:
- Wake up
- Get ready
- Commute to work (if you are not lucky to work remotely)
- Give your best for 8 hours (+ lunch)
- Come back
- Take care of house, kids, dishes, everything
- Have 0 remaining energy for anything.
What’s the recipe? Only one thing works for me. Consciously scheduling time for joy. Remembering what I like and doing it. I grouped my favorite activities into a few categories:
- learning more about programming
- reading about brain
- finding out more about sales
- science-fiction books
- computer games
- computer games
- exploring new music on Spotify
- board games
- cinema with friends
- multiplayer computer games
I noticed that often I don’t balance those activities properly. For example, I like learning more about programming and sales, I always have a few books about these topics around myself. But… sometimes it feels that I am forcing myself to read them.
On the other hand, when I started listening to an SF book, I finished 17 hours of audio material in a few days. I just forgot that I enjoy a different topic and a different medium.
This happens to me more often than I would like to admit. We love doing something and we forget about doing it. We forget to schedule time for joy and remaining sane. We forget we are more complex and enjoy variety. We default to the same way of resting such as:
- playing computer games
- reading books
- binge watching tv shows
- reading programming news or Facebook
because it usually works. Perhaps because it worked for so many years on us. But at some point, it often loses its magic. Yes, you enjoy the TV show but only when the episode is great, not average. And frankly, because of recommendations, it is easier to find historically good TV-shows and movies and hard to find fresh ones which are up to your taste. Art is strange in that way. You can use IMDB and other platforms to watch top 100 or top 250 best movies and enjoy them a lot. But then anything next is just… not so good :) For me and computer games, it was hard to enjoy anything after The Witcher 3.
So last week I was like… fuck it. I gotta do something different, go somewhere different and break my habits. I scheduled 2-hour ride to a different city, spending half a day in an aqua-park and enjoyed water sliding like a baby. The next day it was ice skating.
I noticed that I often tend to focus too strongly on intellectual ways of having joy, which can be extremely hard after hours of coding, instead of social and/or physical.
It’s good to have goals, it’s good to want to improve, be better at coding, find a better place, support your family. But when we forget about joy, when we only feel guilty about not working, not doing more, we lose a lot. Especially we lose motivation. I noticed that surprisingly when you give yourself more slack, more freedom, you come more energized to your goals and challenges.
Sometimes the real answer is to forget about blogging, do something different that you love and come back later. I know it sounds trivial. That’s why I tried to provide specific examples how I can completely screw it up.