Ken Brittain over at his micro-ISV’s Formal Software Blog has stepped into a trap I knew well, but have of late forgotten about. Ken is archiving his old posts and restarting his blog.

“Originally I had planned to use the blog to tell the story of my MicroISV development. It turns out that writing about creating software doesn’t actually create any software.”

Here’s how the trap of talking out your great idea works. You hit upon a great idea for a product, an application, a business. You’re so excited by the idea you tell your friends, blog about it, you talk about it to anyone who will sit still to listen. You brag about how much money it will make, how cool it will be that you can write this, how much everyone will want it.
And a curious thing happens.
You start noticing that it’s harder and harder to actually do the work instead of talk about it. You find your enthusiasm waning, your burning desire burning out, your clarity and focus turning to mist. What happened?
Whether it’s some weird quirk in our brains that replaces doing with talking, I don’t know. When I started building my micro-ISV the more I talked about it, the less I coded. The more I’d tell others what I was working on, the less actual work I got done. So one day, I stopped talking about what I was going to do and restarted focusing on doing it. I got more work done that week on my micro-ISV than I had in the previous month. For the rest of the development cycle, I only talked about it with the people I needed to talk to – my beta testers.
When I wrote my first book, I shut up about it to friends and family. Ditto book #2. Those books now exist, as does my micro-ISV because after years and years and years of having great ideas that I would talk out with friends and family, I finally shut up.
I do not – in any way shape or form – mean you should not blog. What I mean is you should save the bragging for when the job is done. Ken, to his credit, got the lesson:

“My focus for this blog is going to be related to the actual decisions and choices made while developing the software. It will be the repository for all of the software development artifacts that I am going to create. I will start with the project idea (which I realize I never fully explained before). It will be home the use cases (I do so love doing use case) as well as diagrams and sample code.
So I am restarting the MicroISV Challenge. Hey, we all make mistakes. This time I am going to learn from them.”

Right you are Ken, and thanks for reminding me of a really important lesson.


  1. Hah. I know exactly what you mean. I came up with an idea more than a year ago and told just about anyone who’d stand still long enough to listen.
    I ended up doing almost no development beyond a UI prototype. I came up with a new one several months ago and said nothing to anyone except that I was working on a new idea.
    It worked. I ended up spending nights and weekends working on the project and I nearly have a working prototype now. I thought it was just me that had this quirk.

  2. bobw Reply

    Tim – That makes three of us – and I will bet a whole lot more.

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