I burn through a lot of projects. Some last for several months to half a year, and others for a couple days. I can say confidently that after each project (most of them left unfinished) I’ve improved as a developer. Each project I’ve done has taught me something. Either I learned a better way of designing something, or I learned how not to do something. Yes, this can seem pretty obvious and self-congratulatory, but the alternative is to feel that you’ve wasted days to months of your life working on something that had no value. The only option is to self-critique and realize while you may not have accomplished what you set out to do, you’ve come out of the project having improved in other ways.
What is a ‘critique’ anyways?
A critique by itself has no intrinsic value. However it’s an invaluable asset for self improvement. It’s a personal form of self-reflection, really only valued by yourself. One of my close friends, an artist, explains how a critique should look:
“Critiques need a foundational basis, you cant just arbitrarily decide ‘its good’ or ‘its bad.’ If its good, you need to prove to yourself why. If its bad, you need to understand where the shortcomings are specifically. ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ don’t really mean anything on their own. The best critiques address both good and bad because you will always have room for improvement or trying new things or re-examining things from a new perspective. However you also want to take the time to address your current growth and acknowledge where your strengths lie. If you’re only ever shitting on yourself, you get discouraged more easily and burn out more quickly.”
So in short, a good critique should:
- Acknowledge the good, what was executed well, what was smart
- Acknowledge the bad, what was poorly done, what was dumb
- Explain why a ‘thing’ is ‘good’ or ‘bad’
Mini self-critiques of my projects
I will leave this journal entry on a minor announcement, I’m going to start self-critiquing my projects in a new section. This is of course for self-improvement but will also help me remember the pitfalls of my previous projects & help keep a record of my progress. Check it out if you get the chance!