27 October, 2013

A Decade in Software Testing – Writing, A Mental Therapy

I gave life to this blog on 6th Feb 2009 and it has been giving life to me ever since. Although the blog was created on 6th Feb 2009, I didn’t know what to write for a long time. I then read a blog post by Pradeep Soundararajan on five tips for bloggers. I had just finished reading the blog post when an email arrived from him. It read something like, ‘I saw your blog with nothing posted on it. I suggest you to write something and get going’. I was happy to know at least one person would be interested to read my blog! I wrote my first blog post on 6th March 2009. First comment on my blog was from Pradeep :) I credit most of my accomplishments to this blog – Curious Tester. 

Writing first few blog posts was a roller coaster ride. While I was decent in verbal and written communication, it was hard to put all my thoughts into writing. I improved over time. I hardly read books those days, which meant my vocabulary wasn’t great. I would wait excitedly for weekends so I could blog about something I learned during that week.

Writing on Curious Tester blog has always been fun. It’s like that 2 yo who shows his/her accomplishments to the grandparents. Grandparents, because they are more appreciative most of the time compared to parents. My writing capacity went down in 2011 and 2012. Every 3 months, I would show up with a blog post and disappear after that. I had become a guest writer for my own blog. I felt bad, but I was busy with my children and my work.

Terrible Mistakes
I have made some terrible mistakes. I was invited to write for a popular crowdsourcing blog, but they backed out after reading my blog post. I didn't hear from them after that. I also released my own e-book on 'Web Accessibility'. I consider this a failure because I made a checklist and called it an e-book. At that time, I enjoyed doing it and was happy about it. Now, I know it was low quality work. Even now, I fail often. The good thing is I recover quickly most of the times. Rephrasing Don Shula's 24 hour rule 

"Celebrate Success or Sulk in Failure for 24 hours after which you must get back to work." 
Not everyone likes what I write
Many professional/prolific writers find my Indian – English irritating. The good news is many friends who know me have told me that my writing is bad or not engaging directly to me instead of cursing my work in my back.

I was hurt to hear that my writing is bad especially when it came from people who I deeply respect and love. Two years fast forward, I have made great progress. You cannot please everyone with every piece of writing you create. Seth Godin talks about three classes of readers and how your writing will strike a chord with very few readers of each of these classes. In worst cases, it will hardly inspire someone. As a writer, do you care?

I care! I do care that people like my writing when I have done something new or cool and I think it will benefit a larger audience. I wouldn’t care if it's something I wrote for myself, like these ‘A Decade in Software Testing’ series of blog posts. Irrespective of whether people like or not, there is definitely one person who is deeply inspired at the end of every writing effort – and that’s ME. 

In recent past, I took to writing very seriously and started to reach out to many global friends like Jari Laakso, Johanna Rothman, Steven Smith for reviewing articles. Each time, I go to a  different person for reviews. I got one reviewed by my 6 yo recently. She found a few areas confusing and I knew what to fix in that article at the end of that discussion. Despite these efforts, there will be attempts which end up in duds. Well, Welcome to the Journey called Life!
"Nothing works all the time"
At the end of the day, I remember what Gerald M. Weinberg said, “I knew that nothing I would ever write would please all of the people all of the time, or even some of the time. All that’s important is that some of the people respond some of the time sufficiently often.”


Writing is Hard Work
In 2011, I decided that I will work hard towards my writing. Two years later, I can say, I am good enough (although there is lots to learn). I decided to write more often and write better. I started writing for many testing, leadership, entrepreneurship magazines, wrote a couple guest blogs for friends, started helping people to blog, helped them with reviews and reviewed a lot of stuff for other writers too. Around the same time, I started to read scores of books. My current record is 3 books per month, reading all 3 in parallel most of the time. I get a lot of writing ideas while reading books, while playing with my children and in the restroom too ;). Reading books has become an integral part of my writing life.

Leadership is (expletive-deleted) hard. A leader needs to be ahead of his people, yet walk alongside them and light the path. A leader needs to take a lot of pain, which may never be recognized at all. I like that pain, it makes me a better human being. This is why I find writing about leadership highly challenging and stimulating. It's easy to write if you have lived it well. I believe I am doing a decent job. 

I write a lot about Influential Leadership and Entrepreneurial Leadership these days. I am learning a lot about Influence and Leadership and hence writing on similar lines. 
"Ability to Influence People Positively is one of the toughest tasks in human history and I intend to be good at that"

Curator at TechWell
Oh, I am one of the official curators at TechWell! Curated writing is a new challenge I have accepted for myself. I no longer want to do what I am comfortable with. I want to do whatever appears impossible and see what is in store for me. I want to throw myself off the comfort zone again and again and again. 

Writing is Mental Therapy
Pradeep told me about one lady who walked up to him at CAST 2013 and told him how she had decided to quit her 15 years testing career, but decided to stay after reading my blog [If you are this lady and you think I have misquoted you, please get in touch with me :P]. 
"It’s fun to quietly inspire someone from some corner of the world"
Writing is a Mental Therapy. It soothes me down. It connects me with my soul. It trains me to listen to my Inner Voice better. Writing reminds me that I don’t belong here. Writing tells me that I am here to do my bit for the world and move on, just like Jonathan Livingston Seagull!

My Latest Collection of Articles
Testing Planet

TechWell

Carma Connect

Curious Tester Blog


By the way, Scott Berkun is my new writing hero!

Happy Reading!

Regards,
Parimala Hariprasad