It’s the Hard Stuff

The ability to sit down and do the work we hate is what sets us apart

Admit it, we all hate doing the hard work—the mundane, the minutiae, the tedious. Give us the fun, interesting work and we can get lost in it for hours. That other stuff? We’ll drag our feet, moan and complain, and leave it to the last minute. The funny part is, often it’s the hard stuff that matters most.

Yesterday I wrote about creating better documentation in Open Source. Truth is, I hate writing instructions for my projects. I have it all in my head—every detail, every condition, and every query—but so often I have trouble relaying that to the unseen, unknown user. I’m the expert right? I created it, shouldn’t I be the best person to tell someone else how it works? Yet I struggle and put it off and say “I’ll get to that later”. Sometimes later never comes.

What’s worse, a proper set of documents can elevate a project above others. It’s such an easy win for a project author to gain users (because we all want people to use the stuff we build right?). You don’t even have to solve any problems, or test your solutions, you just write what it does and how someone else can use it to fit their own needs, that’s it.

But it’s not exciting. There’s no glory in documents. You never hear, “Hey man, those were some bad ass instructions you put together, nice work”. You know what you will hear if you don’t? “What the fuck asshole, thanks for telling us how to use this crappy thing. FAIL!”

This is why the hard stuff is so important. It often makes all the difference, helping someone get to work or adding that touch of detail that increases your quality. It’s the stuff that makes you a professional, instead of just another amateur.

I’d argue I’m still very much an amateur, though I strive to one day consider myself a professional. Just by being conscious of my disdain of the hard stuff is a step in the right direction, but I can’t allow myself to conflate a single step with success, so I’ll keep pushing, keep improving, and one day, hopefully, the hard stuff will be just a bit easier.