On Doing

It’s not about the tool, it’s about the way you use it.

We all know this line in context to photography, playing an instrument and other hobbies and professions. It’s the go-to response to someone who talks about not being able to get something done at a certain level of proficiency or quality. But saying that line won’t help. Because this person believes the matter he or she states, or is already aware of the fact that complaint is incorrect and chooses to ignore it.

Tim van Damme wrote about writing yesterday. He wrote exactly the thoughts I have on my mind regarding writing. His words are in line with what Merlin Mann wrote about distraction free writing environments. You only get results if you sit down, and do it.

Many of us want to blog, many of us want to become better at CSS3, learn PHP, learn Ruby on Rails, blog more, photography, learn to play the guitar, fix up some part of the house, or just get up earlier in the day. It extends as far as people wanting to set-up shop, or quit their high-paying, brain-cell destroying job to start baking cookies for a living.

I’m not writing this out of the mindset that I even remotely have the idea that I’m good at it, for I’m a superhero at procrastinating. And my second best quality is talking about cool ideas and concepts and not doing them. I write this because I need to write it. Because it boils down to something very simple; a true / false situation, a boolean value, a one or a zero, a YES or a NO – for you Objective C folk. It breaks down to doing it.

This blog has had as many header re-iterations in it’s current incarnation than re-designs before it. This blog has had months of near-inactivity because of an impending re-align. Because “I totally needed to re-align the blog to start writing more”. But that’s not true, is it?

It’s about doing it. You can have an unstyled piece of HTML tied up to a Frontpage 4.0 frameset-based website and still write. The re-align did help, purely because of the addition of link blogging. This is essentially writing in very small chunks; writing succinctly about something I encountered that I deemed important enough to mention on here. But even that requires me to sit down and do it.

What I’m going on about here is a profusely less convincing version of Merlin Mann’s rants on Back to Work. It feels simple to write about this, yet it’s not. It feels self-evident to talk about this, yet it’s not. I believe the crux lies in experience. Jason Fried can tell you that you need to ship with less features, but chances are you will not realize you have just wasted months on development of useless features until you do. And – however weird it might sound – that’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing because you actually did it. Because doing it is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter if you do it wrong. It doesn’t matter if you fail. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t write these lines of code in the most efficient way, in accordance with some über programming guidelines. It doesn’t matter if you had to re-iterate on a design seven times before launch. It doesn’t matter that you spent six hours writing a five-hundred word article. It matters that you did. So I would like to take the former quote and edit it to:

It’s not about the tool, it’s about doing it.

Failing is the best way of learning. Doing it is the shortest route to failing. And trying enough times will eventually lead to success. This is not one of the most well-written, well-edited posts. But it did get written. And that’s what matters – to me, at least.