I've been feeling pretty creatively unfulfilled lately, and I think that's because my standards might be too high. I start a new coding project and think, "oh, this part would be better if I did it this way or had this other tool," then start building the tool, think, "oh this part would be better if ...", and repeat.

I won't say I'm a perfectionist, but I'm not far off. My standards are calibrated for industrial-strength enterprise software built by legions of engineers, not small projects built in my (rather limited) spare time. In those environments, handling every single corner case matters, as does testing the fuck out of everything. And so I never finish anything, because I need an entire team of engineers to write, "Hello, World!".

I know a lot of you fine folks are in the same boat. Whether it's art, or writing, or code, or music, I've lost count of how many times I've heard you say, "My work isn't good enough. There are so many ways this could be better." And maybe we're even right about that; striving to improve yourself and your work is a good thing.

But it's also really hard not to get sucked into the vortex of perfection, and lose sight of what you're trying to accomplish. So I often have to ask myself: "Is something shitty better than nothing?"

It's so much easier for me to make something when I don't care about the thing itself because either (a) I'm just fucking around, or (b) I need it for a specific purpose, so there is a clearly-defined goal and a desire to expend the minimum amount of effort. In fact, my most successful/complete projects almost entirely fall into category (b), even though those projects are probably the least rewarding.

I need to find a way through that dichotomy. How do I make any progress at all on something I really care about? How do I just write this blog post without worrying about where all the punctuation goes?

I need to make more cool shit, but I need to do it in a way that's actually rewarding and achievable. How do y'all do it?

— Des


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August 2018

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