I have a bad habit of getting distracted with rabbit holes. I see one and I feel a compulsion to go down it. Sometimes it’s like starting with a Wikipedia article and many hours later I’m down only half of the starting page but I have read 100 other pages linked from it. Other times, it takes the shape of falling in love with a technical solution when a half-assed manual approached could have produced much of the same results and often much shorter time. February was the later.
In trying to make progress on research topic, I went down the road of trying to automate it. Scrape down a certain site, parse the results, extract the information using a Python scripts and store various metrics into a database so that I can build my data analysis on top of structured data.
The compulsion came from not being able to access an inelegant solution an so I spent a good deal of time trying to write not just useful code, but beautiful code too, and trying to learn and practice new concepts while doing so. While I have made good progress, I still don’t have a solution that allows me to proceed to the next step: data analysis and trying to determine, perhaps mathematically, a good niche.
Not all was wasted in February.
I have read several stories in a larger category as one of the recommendations I picked up was to read works in a potential category in order to become familiar with the conventions of the genre. It was eye opening and illuminating and I was happy that the books I read on reading have helped me better understand structure, characters, and settings.
I read only one “technical” book: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I enjoyed it and captured many great quotes and lessons from it. I think my favorite and the most relevant to my endeavors:
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.