Writing, Music, and Programming

What do these things have in common, writing, playing music, and programming? A lot as it turns out. They all three require years of practice to master. The only way to master them is to actually do them. They are all easy to do poorly but hard to do well. They require the ability to think about things on multiple levels simultaneously. They require a sense of aesthetics. Practicing one of the three often gives insight into the other two. No two people do any one of them in the exact same way.

You can be taught the mechanics of the activity but not the essence of it. For instance, you can be taught grammar and syntax but not style and imagination. That applies equally to writing and programming. As far as music is concerned, you can be taught how to play notes, read music, and stay in time but you can’t be taught how to express the feeling behind an emotional selection.

All three can move someone to action or they can move them to tears. They can be practical or frivolous. They can earn you money or cost you money. They are often done alone, particularly when you are building your skills so that you won’t embarrass yourself the first time you try to do them for someone else.

They can be done passionately or coldly, for good or evil ends. You can be at the height of your abilities one day and find it hard to do at all the next. I’ve never heard of anyone writing a program to woo their beloved but I suppose it is possible.

While they all can be done for hire, they are often done for the sheer pleasure of it. Someone who has never done them probably won’t understand what the point in doing them is.

If you are a writer, a musician, or a programmer, I salute you. If you are more than one of these, you will better understand my points, but if you are all three, I’d love to meet you for coffee or a beer sometime.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.