I’m Lou Franco, and this is Episode 15 of Write While True, which is a writing program for programmers.
If you follow it literally, you’ll be in an infinite loop of writing. But I mean program as in a training program.
So, in each episode, I’ll challenge you with an exercise that will help you build a writing habit. This is Season one, which is about foundational exercises.
Listen to Write While True at your desk, and when it’s over, start writing.
I’m a Programmer
I have been programming since I was 13 and I’ve done it as a career for about 30 years. I identify as a programmer in a very deep way. I do it nearly every day, and it brings me joy.
I stared running around 2005 and I did it on and off for more than a decade. I was never was able to make it a big part of my life—I did a few races every year, but I wasn’t really a runner.
Two years ago, I did a few things to take up the practice of running more seriously. The first thing I did was to join a coached running group. Having some accountability and a training program made by an expert certainly helps.
But another tactic I used 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: Warm up for 15 minutes, then do 6×3:00 at a 5k pace, with a rest interval of 2:00 in between each sprint, and then do a 10 minute cooldown. There are a few different patterns.
When I started I would memorize the workout. Then, I just used the Apple Workouts app and just watched the time or distance and adjusted by pace at the right time.
But after Apple introduced SwiftUI for Apple Watch, I made Sprint-o-Mat. It’s 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’s next. It’s free on the App Store — and if you run programmed sprints, I think you’ll like it.
It makes my workouts better. But also, it’s helped turn me into a runner.
I want to run more to test my app. I want to program more to add features to help my runs.
Last year, I ran two marathons guided by Sprint-o-Mat. I run enough and take it seriously enough that I think of myself as a runner now.
Now I am trying to combine writing and programming.
But, unlike what I did with running, I’m not really interested in making a writing app.
But I do want writing to drive programming and programming to drive writing. So I am taking on projects that involve both.
This podcast is part of it. I also blog (mostly about programming) every day on loufranco.com and write iOS tutorials on App-o-Mat.
A virtuous circle
App-o-Mat is made with Django, and a lot of times when I am writing, I come up with features that would make the site better. In that way, writing leads to programming. I have a bunch of watch lessons on App-o-Mat that have code samples taken from Sprint-o-Mat. So, programming led back to writing. And it goes full-circle. Round and round.
Last month, I wrote about personal finance and that led to a python script to help explain savings rates. And then I wrote about the script itself. And round again
And I made this podcast, but I wanted to self-host, so I learned how to do that with s3 and wrote my own way to get analytics. So, Podcasting leads to programming. And then I wrote up a blog about that program (so it led back to writing) and now I am telling you about it on this podcast. Round and round it goes.
And the more times I go around the circle the easier it becomes to write or podcast or program about one of the other things I’m doing. The content for this podcast is mostly taken from a blog post I made in February. Back then I just said that I should come up with some way to combine programming and writing more. This podcast was the result of that thinking.
In my intro, I asked you to listen at your desk, ready to write when I am done speaking.
But first, I want to thank you for listening so far. As a new podcast, I am depending on you to spread the word if you found it valuable. I also want to encourage you to send your feedback email to firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter @loufranco or look for me on LinkedIn.
I would love a review or rating in the Apple Podcasts app, stars in Overcast, or whatever else your podcast player allows. And subscribe if you want more episodes.
If you write publicly, please send me a link.
Use programming to drive writing
I made this podcast for programmers so that I could use my identity as a programmer to try to build one as a writer. I use programming to help make this podcast, but to make the content for it I’m forced to write, to read about writing and to generally try to learn more about writing.
I think this means that you, my listeners, are mostly programmers. And if you got this far, you probably want to write more. It’s also pretty likely that you are more likely a professional programmer or on your way to that and maybe don’t yet see yourself as a write.
So, look for ways to use programming to combine the two. Use programming to drive your writing. Contribute to open-source or just make a script to make your life easier. Then use that as a jumping off point in a blog post.
Thanks for listening. This has been Write While True and since true is true, start writing.