How to stay motivated and write code everyday
Just finished reading an amazing book called The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, written by Steven Pressfield. This is one of the few books that gave me a complete new look at the craft of programming and why what we create is art and how we can give it more than we actually do.
A while ago, after reading again John Resig’s post about writing code everyday , I decided I should do the same since I have quite a few projects I started, and I do believe in them but they seem to never end. Maybe as a coincidence, just after finishing this post, I started reading The War of Art which came as a deeper explanation to why we should dedicate more to our craft and also explained very well what keeps us back from doing so.
Everyone of us, believed at one point, that external factors are blocking us from sitting down everyday and do what essentially we love the most, writing code. We all thought that maybe a cold or a flu, a fight with our partner, a crying baby, life, an unsatisfactory job, a not so big income, etc. caused us not to sit down and put the work to finish something that we so enthusiastically started but we never seem to finish. In this book, the author clearly explains that all the above is called Resistance, and that is not caused by those external factors, but by internal ones, and that essentially we let all those factors take the shape of Resistance and win over us. We, thus postponed sitting down and doing our task, and by doing this we found that tomorrow we postponed again, and postponing became a habit, procrastination became a habit, Resistance won, and we were never able to finish our work. This built frustration, frustration built unhappiness and we started to question our love for the craft.
There is also a mystic side to this book, which makes sense even to a person like myself. I am not a believer in mystic gods or angels, which made me a bit skeptical when I started reading about Muses that eventually are angels or incorporeal beings of higher nature that whisper inspiration in the artist’s ears. But then I read about the following quote:
“Eternity is in love with the creation of time”, William Blake.</b>
The way Steven Pressfield explains this made so much sense and humbled me on the spot. The way he explains it is that whatever we create, any work of art that we create or witness already exists, or existed before and it was brought up to reality by the artist that could understand it and desereved the opportunity to materialize it. It already existed in another sphere, an immaterial one, a timeless one. The work existed only as potential without a body to materialize it. It needed someone, a human, an artist to bring it on this material plane. But only the one that understands and respects the gifts that were given to oneself is worthy and capable to materialize works of art. When Beethoven created the Fifth Symphony he brought “a creation of time”, which “eternity” could be “in love with”. In other words, the more you sit down and work, the more you give to your craft, the more you write code and learn every night, the more you understand, respect and appreciate the genius that you were blessed with, the more is given to you because you earned the right to materialize great concepts.
To bring the above abstract and somehow mystic concepts, to our reality and how I should apply it, I plan on coding at least 30 minutes everyday besides my regular job, make time to read more about our craft, learn more, dedicate more of my time to what I really love and thus to create a healthy habit that can lead to the satisfaction of getting things done.
Another concept that totally identified to what we’re doing is Territorial Orientation. There is also a Hierarchical Orientation, one that makes us create for what sells, one that makes us act from the perspective of the external, critical eye of society. This kind of orientation is wrong and will never bring satisfaction, this is for “hacks” - people that are not true artists, people that are not dedicated to their craft, but to a superfluous hierarchical scale.
The Territorial orientation is the one that gives us satisfaction, the one that makes us be masters of our territory. When Arnold Schwarzenegger goes into the gym he is the master of that territory. But what made the gym his own territory are the hours and years of sweat he put in to claim it. A territory doesn’t give, it gives back. When we sit down at our desks in front of our computer we need to be masters of that territory. We need to put in the hours, the days, the years of hard work to master that territory. Being masters of our territory will give us the power to continue, will strengthen the fact that we are not hacks, we are the real deal, and our job is to code and finish the creation at hand. Again, this motivated me even more to make time and code everyday and learn more everyday, even if for just 30 minutes.
As a conclusion, we need to sit down every night, even after a grueling day at work and code, exercise the craft we love, master the territory we can master and deserve that inspiration and success that are given to the one that works, that fights Resistance in all its forms. It may sound crazy, but I really encourage you to read this book, read it with an opened mind and you’ll be encouraged to get all those lingering projects to an end. That will give you the power to code more, even though they might not be successful, but they will place us on a path of creation that will eventually lead to success.
Please comment bellow if you already read this book or if you plan to read it and tell me if you felt inspired by it or by this post.