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What would you say is the best place to start for folks who want to get into writing about Swift or writing about iOS on the web?
John Sundell: I get this question quite a lot. And I think the most important thing, like before you get started writing or doing anything that's creative, whether it's writing or podcasting or creating videos or creating apps or whatever it is you want to create. I think the most important thing you first have to ask yourself is, “why do I want to do this?” What's your motivation for doing it because I want to tell you a little fun story.
So Paul and the listeners also here in the chat can tell me, have you ever heard of Sundell's Swift? Not Swift by Sundell, but Sundell's Swift.
"I think the most important thing you first have to ask yourself is, 'why do I want to do this'?"
Some people in the chat, they are saying that they never heard of it. And I'm not blaming you because that was my previous blog. My previous website, before I started Swift by Sundell, I had another website called Sundell's Swift. And no one has ever heard about that because no one really read that site. No one discovered that site. No one read the articles on there. So why did that first site fail? Like, why did no one ever heard of it, and why does the current site that I have... I'm not going to say like, “Oh, my site is a huge success.” Or whatever But it's doing fairly okay. I'm very happy with how it's turned out.
So I think the biggest differences between my goals and my way of thinking when I started those two projects. So when I started my first blog, I honestly didn't really know why I was doing it. I did it because everybody else seemed to be blogging. You went to conferences, everyone had a blog. You listened to podcasts, everyone had a blog. You talked to the senior developers in your company, they all had blogs. And you know, it just seemed like that's what you should be doing.
Again, I was kind of at that point in my career where I wanted to kind of go to the next level, and I was like, “okay, I guess I have to start a blog.” You know, it just felt like what I had to do. And I think a lot of people feel that way. They feel like they kind of have to. Like, it's part of being a developer is having a blog and writing articles or being a podcast.
"I wanted to become a better writer. So I set myself a challenge and I said, you know what? I'm going to write one new article, even if it's a short one every single week and publish it. And I'm going to see how many weeks I can keep up doing that."
And what's that great joke on Twitter a few months ago, which was like, the level of being a developer is like junior developer, senior developer, podcast host. And it's easy to feel that way. It feels like that's what you should do, but I don't think that's a recipe for success. I don't think that's something that can help you do this in the long term because if you're doing it just because everybody else is doing it, or because you don't know why you're doing it, you just kind of started doing it, well, it's going to be hard to keep up with motivation. And that's honestly what happened with my first blog. I just wrote three articles and then I stopped because I didn't have any motivation. I didn't know why I was doing it. I didn't have something that kind of was driving me.
And if you compare it to Swift by Sundell, which when it started was just a Medium blog, I didn't even have the website. I just started on Medium. And I just set a challenge to myself. At that point, I had a very clear goal, and my goal was, I wanted to become a better writer. I had learned, because I had been writing more and more documentation when I was working at Spotify, I had learned that I kind of enjoyed writing documentation, I enjoyed writing about code, so I wanted to improve those skills. I wanted to become a better writer. So I set myself a challenge and I said, “you know what? I'm going to write one new article, even if it's a short one every single week and publish it. And I'm going to see how many weeks I can keep up doing that.” That was the challenge to myself.
"There's so many different ways to contribute to the community. You don't have to write articles."
And once I got into the groove of doing that, I just kept going and I haven't stopped. I'm still doing that. I'm still writing a new article every week. I'm still on that streak for 160 something weeks now. And I think that's really the difference is that when you're starting, you need to have some kind of goal. And again, if you can't find a goal, I think you have to ask yourself, well, should I really be doing this? Maybe you should do something else.
There's so many different ways to contribute to the community. You don't have to write articles. You can do a lot of different things. You can do something like contribute to open source. You can mentor people in your own local community. You can mentor people in your company. You can help people out. You can make YouTube videos or screencasts or live streams, whatever you want to do. There's so many different ways to contribute. I think that's the most important thing is to ask yourself, why am I doing this? And what are my goals with it?
This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.
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