Remember that Writing Software is a Creative Process

August 28, 2013 Steve Hawley

Being in software engineering for more than 20 years I’ve met a lot of solid engineers and creativity and imagination were part and parcel of their personalities.  This is a great trait in that it helps us come up with solutions to challenging problems.  One thing that doesn’t get talked about enough is that I believe that no creativity comes without its share of problems.  For example, creativity isn’t something that can be switched on if it isn’t there.  I don’t think I know anyone who can choose to be creative on a particular day, but instead we need to make the best of the creativity that we have on any given day.  Worse then being “not on” you might instead suffer from depression or other issues that totally sap your abilities.

Greg Baugues gave an interesting talk about dealing with ADHD and Type II Bipolar:

I don’t have the same issues that Greg has, but I do have a list of things that might help you when your creative juices dry up next time:

  1. Remember that it’s temporary.  It will pass.
  2. Recognize if it’s worse than a short dry spell and get appropriate help.
  3. If you have a good trusting relationship with your boss, talk to her/him about it to set her/his expectations.  There might be other interim work for you that doesn’t involve creativity.
  4. Find tasks that are helpful to your company (fix/proof documentation, write tests, pair program or ask for help on your tasks, write a constructive blog, etc.).
  5. Find tasks that are helpful to your career (learn a new language or framework, read some math/geometry, read other blogs).
  6. Clean your office.
  7. Prepare a talk for your peers (maybe just to keep in your back pocket).
  8. Take a walk or do some other exercise.
  9. Build a Lego kit. I don’t mean play with Lego bricks – that’s creativity – just build a kit that was designed by someone else.  This will exercise a different part of your brain.
  10. Take a day off.

About the Author

Steve Hawley

Steve was with Atalasoft from 2005 until 2015. He was responsible for the architecture and development of DotImage, and one of the masterminds behind Bacon Day. Steve has over 20 years of experience with companies like Bell Communications Research, Adobe Systems, Newfire, Presto Technologies.

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