Last night, I was reminded of 2 things:
1. Editing matters in more fields than just content writing
2. Coding has a more pedantic nature than I expected (but I should have expected it!)
quit writing: jaded;
3 months ago, I made the decision to quit writing publicly on my personal blog, for several reasons, the main ones being that my job is demanding and, as I was teaching myself programming while trying to manage both my personal blog and my tech blog (dedicated to my journey of learning a new skillset), I got burned out. Writing felt more like a job than the cathartic escape I had always known it to be…so I stopped.
The reaction I got from friends, family, and my band of misfit readers—including some who, I’m sure, never read a single word I wrote over that 7-year period—were shocked, outraged even! It’s funny now, in an ironic sort of way. They all still insist that it’s “just a break.” I haven’t written anything since my last post in March, but I have been reading Stephen King’s “On Writing” and still find myself catching errors online and in print. Can’t turn the writer-brain off, I guess!
At any rate, I’ve been focused on tech and web development and finding the right course(s) that suit my learning style (haven’t found one yet; I keep getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume available!) and recently posted on LinkedIn that I was going to start over again—no more erratic off-and-on schedules!—and practice daily for at least 20 minutes, if for no other reason than to hold myself accountable.
After a 12.5-hour workday yesterday, I decided to keep my promise to myself. I opened the Mimo app and brought up the HTML Beginner challenges I had started the previous day. I love the Mimo app because there are quizzes and challenges throughout that help me learn by reinforcing practice and giving me direction when I miss something. I like that better than other platforms that just give you the concept with no feedback other than ensuring completion. Anyway, I was working on a challenge where you have to recreate parts of a website using the IDE within the app. The challenge consisted of a header (h1) element, two links (<a>) to pre-existing parts of the website, and a line break (<br>) between the two links. Easy, right?
When Mimo gave me my feedback, I had everything correct—except the first link. I repeatedly reviewed my code. The a tag and href attribute are spaced correctly, the link itself is correct, and the text between the hyperlink and closing tag is spelled correctly…what’s the issue?
I grew frustrated and decided to scroll on LinkedIn for a quick distraction. As I scrolled, I saw a post someone in my network had “liked” written by editor extraordinaire Theresa Burton. She had written a post on the difference between drafting and editing a story and why each one is different but important. As a writer/editor who is learning how to manipulate code, naturally, I found correlations between the two practices. “Drafting,” she says, “allows you to be messy, discover your ideas…building something out of a seedling of an idea.” Isn’t that what coding is? Building something out of nothing? And that’s when the solution to my coding dilemma hit!
Thanks to years of writing, editing, and proofreading, I know how to self-edit well (last night was an exception!). It didn’t take me long to spot my error, which I found by reviewing my code:
I had misspelled the href attribute for the a tag! Instead of “h-r-e-f” I initially typed “h-e-r-f”!
(This is why Stack Overflow and Google exist—so that no one has to memorize code and risk making mistakes like this!)
Writing code, like editing a story, is essentially about problem-solving. Developers use code as a tool to fix problems and/or build apps and websites; likewise, editors use grammar structures and proofreading marks as tools to help writers construct the best story possible. Both endeavors are messy—sometimes developers have to debug and retest code repeatedly; just like writers have to write more than one draft to know the heart of their story—but at the end of manipulating all that syntax, beauty is rediscovered and new creations are birthed.