For me programming has always been a very creative activity, like drawing, playing an instrument or gardening. There is something about sitting in front of a computer and realising that there are endless possibilities to create something almost magical, if I just put my mind to it and figure out how it works.
I started at a relatively young age of 14 to explore the different possibilities with Amiga and PCs. By then it was all about games and making pretty graphics float around on the screen. The big revolution came of course with the Internet and web browser. Thanks to HTML it became even easier to create something colourful and best of all; I could show it to anyone by sending a link in an email. Few things have blown my mind more than that.
These days I don’t work as a programmer any longer. I realised I would not be the best of what I did and I found it more compelling to focus on the business side of what the products could do, rather than the actual code writing.
So I practice what I’d like to call Code Therapy instead. I sit for hours on my spare time and build small products and services with the few programming skills I have. Sometimes I explore a new framework for responsive design or implement a small user login against a new database or test integration possibilities against different social media services.
I have probably about 50 or 60 unfinished projects on my computers. For some of them I of course initially thought they would make pretty decent products one day, but I did not have the time or motivation to finish them. About ten years ago this was rather depressing. Why could I not get my products out there? But I later realised that the products that I didn’t finish wasn’t really that awesome to begin with. And it wasn’t a waste of time. It was practice, it was exercising my brain, it was creative. Most of the code was also later used in other products, that did go live.
The most exciting thing about this is that when I talk to other developers, almost all of them are doing the same thing! They build stuff and leave it to grow old on their computers. It’s just early sketches. A part of their legacy as code artists.
For me the Code Therapy helps me understand what new technologies can offer and what business opportunities we can develop from it. Also it’s a way for me to escape reality and put my mind to work, solving a puzzle I created myself with pieces I find on the Internet.
I hope more developers will stop feeling bad about their unfinished projects and realise it’s not a waste of your time. It helps you grow. Personally I would never hire a programmer who was not coding on his/her free time. Please send me your thought via twitter or the comments below.
Photo by: Riebart