Blogging and the Paralysis of Choice


When I talk to younger developers about starting to blog, they often say things like “I don’t know what to write about” or “I have nothing to say”. This is because there is simply a paradox of too much to say, or what is commonly referred to as paralysis of choice. The field of software engineering is a complex one, full of detail. Trying to encompass all that detail can be terrifying.

I was rereading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance a few months ago and the author had a wonderful anecdote about how to get past this paralysis. He asked his class to write an essay on anything related to the city they were in. A student expressed confusion, stating she didn’t know what to write about. He said, “Then write about the front of City Hall”. She still looked confused so he clarified: “Ok, write about the top left brick on the front of City Hall”. The next day she turned in 1000 words about brick making in the area.

Simple advice: if you find yourself paralyzed by choice, zoom in. Other details will fade away and you can focus, research and write about that single element.