Category Archives: Writing

Review of The Practice by Seth Godin

I started this blog in December 2003. Up to 2020, I made an average of 9 posts per year, with a high of 38 posts in 2008 and had several years with none.

During this time, I wrote a book, wrote on App-o-Mat and for Smashing, and so generally, I’m at peace with my writing output. Honestly, though, I had intended to write a lot more. I just never did it.

I finished reading The Practice: Shipping Creative Work by Seth Godin in early January. It’s essentially 219 short, blog-like chapters making the argument that you can choose to ship every day.

Here’s my review.

It is 30 days since I finished reading The Practice, and I have shipped 30 blog posts and an update to one of my apps. Will I keep this up? I have evidence and confidence that I will, mostly because I buy his argument that I can just do it, and doing it will improve my writing. It’s a practice only if I practice it. It’s an infinite game.

The Practice helped me understand “the why” to shipping daily, and that’s enough for me. Doing it with this mindset has made me realize that it’s actually not that hard.

That’s it. That’s the review. I read the book. It changed by behavior.

I have a lot more to say about my practice, but to add more info to prior posts, my daily Big 3 almost always includes writing a post, and a time-block is reserved for it. I chose my yearly theme, Hone, because it’s about improvement via repetition. I put “Practice” on my Habit Totem so that I am reminded to do it constantly.

Use Deprivation to Make Space

The Artist’s Way Week 4 asks you to engage in “reading deprivation”. For a week, you refrain from consumption (reading, TV, movies, and of course social media), but not music. It’s meant to open space for you to do your own work.

I wrote about my writing during reading process, which means I need to read a lot to drive my writing. So, this task was hard to accept as useful.

But, it did have its intended affect. With nothing to distract myself with, I wrote a lot more than usual in this blog and in my personal notes.

Indefinite reading deprivation would eventually exhaust my reserves, but this was an exercise worth repeating.

Combining Identities

I have been programming since I was 13. I am a programmer in a very deep way. I do it nearly every day, and it brings me joy.

I have tried to be a runner for the past 15 years and had some success, but never was able to make it a permanent part of my life—I was not really a runner.

Two years ago, I did a few things to take up the practice of running more seriously. One of my tactics was to combine my programming identity with a nascent running identity.

My coach, Holly, assigns me several programmed runs every week. They are of the form: Warmup for 15 minutes, then do 6×3:00 at 5k pace, with a rest interval of 2:00, and then do a 10 minute cooldown. There are a few different patterns.

I made Sprint-o-Mat, an Apple Watch app to guide me during these runs. It has template patterns that you can customize and then buzzes/dings my wrist to let me know to start a sprint, a rest, or whatever is next.

I want to run to play with my app. I want to program to help my runs. In 2020, I ran two marathons, so I do really see myself as a runner now.

The next thing I am tackling is how to tie a writing identity to programming as well. Unlike running, I don’t think I want to work on a writing app. But to combine programming and writing, I do need some kind of project that uses both.

Note: I released a major update to Sprint-o-Mat. See a post about its new interface and how that influenced its icon design.