[icopyright horizontal toolbar] In my other life, I am a Java and C++ programmer. Since writing and programming both involve a lot of keyboard time, I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast the two. I have a feeling I am not alone on the Internet having two semi-related careers, one being writing. I’d love to hear from some of you on this topic!
As mentioned, both programming and writing require the ability to type reasonably well on a keyboard. This implies some other commonalities: sitting on one’s butt for long hours, perhaps leading too sedentary a life. A wrist or finger injury can hurt two sources of income at once (I try not to dwell on that one!). More seriously, by engaging both my intellect and my emotions, both pursuits have the happy characteristic of making me forget about the clock.
Just as some people view money as a score card to success (I do not belong to this group), I strongly feel clockwatching (or its evil stepsister word-counting) are a valid measure of work-related problems. As one who might be termed a seasoned worker, I have had my share of problem gigs. The ones in which you are glancing at the clock every two minutes were without doubt the worst – the phrase that comes to mind is “soul-killing”.
Luckily for me, both programming and blogging are restoratives. They restore my enthusiasm. It was Camus who in Myth of Sisyphus pointed out that the happiest life is one in which we absurdly engross ourselves in some activity, knowing we will wake up tomorrow and do it again.
I’ll admit that Sisyphus had very little freedom of action. We get to choose, within reason, what we are going to write about or which systems we will work on, in which language using which specific tools. Still, there is an existential resemblance between Mr. S. and all of us who must work (there is our friend money again) to put food on the table.
For my personality, programming is about elegant problem-solving and building intangible buildings and towns – programs and systems. Writing, and most specifically blogging, is more emotional – the tension between saying too much and not enough about one’s self and one’s topic. That is my take, whereas those less reticent have no compunction at letting it all hang out. Blogging can range from dry dustiness to lurid soul-bearing – each author must choose. Fortunately, most bloggers choose a straight path down the center of a topic. My other blogs (at hedgefundwriter.com and hedgefundcrimetoday.com) are that way – the material speaks for itself and my job as a writer is to assemble the material in the most accessible and interesting way I can.
Which do I prefer? It’s a copout, but I love both, perhaps favoring programming in the early part of the day when I have my energy and optimism. Blogging is more mellow for me if it follows later in the day. Personal idiosyncrasies aside, I’m feeling luckiest when the planets align to let me work on both on the same day.
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Copyright 2011 Eric Bank, Freelance Writer