TL;DR: Despite the fact there are more resources that ever for learning how to accomplish what it is you want to accomplish within WordPress, it’s less common to find someone who is facing the same problem under the same constraints with the same voice you have.
Write about your work. Include the problems you’re solving, and the thought process that’s going into their solutions. Though you may be describing a common problem, you’ll be describing them from your perspective.
⌨️ Write About Your Work
Long before I got into WordPress development, I had made the decision early in my career than I wanted to keep a public notebook of the work I was doing, the problems with which I was faced, and how I solved them within the context of my situation.
I had no preconceived notions that I was going to be writing about anything unique. I mean, by the time I’d started blogging, people had been doing the same thing for quite some time. Further, people have been programming and discussing their work on bulletin board systems or on IRC far earlier.
But the point wasn’t to try to share something new. The point was to create a public notebook of my experience as programmer.
First, I was inspired by people that had come before me. This includes larger players like Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood, and other small players that I’d find when Googling for a solution (pre-Stack Overflow).
Secondly, I’ve always found that I learn best when I not only achieve a problem but when I articulate it in my own words. This helps to solidify what it is I’ve done, the why behind it, and to provide the rationale behind it (other than it just works!). Sometimes articulating a solution help expose problems with it.
Third, before I disabled comments – which is another post entirely – it would also help foster legitimate discussion on how to improve what was there. (Remember, this was before Twitter was mainstream and people could praise or shame you publicly for such things 🙃).
📚 Anything Else?
Absolutely. This helped me develop a habit of not only writing regularly but preparing in-office presentations with which I felt more comfortable talking about a given topic.
Since I’d already explained it in writing, I was able to put together presentations for my colleagues that would explain what my team had done and perhaps share our solutions for other teams to use (and vice versa).
This eventually worked its way into my being more comfortable speaking at
- WordPress Meetups,
- And other presentations.
This also eventually gave way into my:
- Writing for other publications,
- Serving as a technical editor for a book,
- And perhaps more valuable than anything: meeting tons of people and making some lifelong friends in the process,
Again, much of the above is going to be a topic for upcoming posts.
✍🏻 Write About My Work Because?
I’ve already given by TL;DR and I’ve already shared the benefits that have come from my writing but here’s the thing: There’s far more to gain than to lose when writing about what you’re doing.
It doesn’t matter if someone else has already written about the same topic. It doesn’t matter if the problem has been solved in some way by someone else. It doesn’t matter how the problem was solved.
Publicly sharing your work has immeasurable returns on what can come from it. Again, no one has solved your problem in the same exact context you have.
You have something to offer and you something to gain. It’s a great thing to do for you and for everyone else who follows what you’re doing (or for those who just happen to drive-by your posts via Google or DuckDuckGo).
⏸ But It’s Not All Great
All of that said, I wouldn’t be painting a complete picture of what can go wrong when you do share your work publicly. And I’m not talking about publishing a bad package or releasing poor code to the public. I’m talking about writing about things that are so opinionated that it can generate social collateral damage in the process.
That’s one of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in my writing and that’s one of the mistakes I’ve worked hard to avoid. But it’s something worth talking about so much so that it deserves its own post.
Since I don’t think someone should go into writing about their experiences blindly (especially when it comes to the negative that may come from it), it seems only fair to also share what that looks like.
And that’s what I’ll be discussing next.