Pointed Development

On Tightening Focus

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Find a balance and focus.

I’m currently working on a draft specification of a high-level, distributed software platform that’s ultimately going to replace its degenerate sister-platform that I helped extend several years ago. It’s the first greenfield project I’ve worked on in a long time, and having a clear vision and sharp focus of its purpose has helped strengthen the overall design.

I didn’t get to this clear vision or sharp focus over night, though. I’ve had a lot of help along the way and an even higher-level architect to direct my work, point out fallacies and correct inconsistencies.

The ultimate design is now very clear: An explicit plug-and-play interface which fosters extensibility and modularity. Each module has a very specific, well-defined purpose.

It’s obvious.

To get to this point, we had to start with a very unfocused amalgamation. We knew what we needed, and we knew how it was going to work, conceptually, but the initial design was all over the place. Through iteration, research, diagramming, discussion, writing, mocking, etc., the design became clearer, cleaner and much more uniform.

This type of refocus carries easily into other creative avenues, too.

For example, I strive to write a single post a day. Until this week, I had been successful meeting my goal. Looking back at the last month of posts, however, I’m struck by how little meaningful content I actually produce, and how unfocused my style of writing tends to be.

I find that I’m rather devoid of substance.

Just as software is iterative, so too is writing. You come up with an idea, write it down, see how it does and doesn’t work, refactor and try again, ad infinitum. In the same way we refocused and tightened the design of the greenfield project, so too should I tighten and refocus my writing and ideas.

As with every other creative endeavor, I need to take a step back, refocus and spend more time developing richer, deeper content.

I need to sculpt.