I found this one tip hugely useful when I was writing novels:
Assume that your first draft will be crap.
It helps to know that even professional writers produce crap on their first attempt. It’s allowed to be crap. You can even sort of aim for it to be crap. It’s really really important to suspend your inner critic at the first draft stage. Your inner critic is your worst enemy at that point: your inner critic is a cruel malicious bully who you would never allow anywhere near anybody you loved.
But without that first draft, you have nothing. So: allow yourself to write utter nonsense, because no matter how crap it is, it is content. It is raw material. And you really badly need that raw material in order to proceed.
Once you have the raw material, invite your inner critic back to the party. Now you can edit and craft and hone.
Oh yes, and here’s a sub-item which I guess I learnt so long ago, I’d forgotten about it: Editing your own work is not as bad as you think.
When I was at school writing essays, I only ever wrote one draft and handed it straight in. This was because I couldn’t bear to read my own work back to myself – I always hated it. But then I realised that it was really satisfying to edit my own work, and it meant I could make it a lot better.
So, use the “rubbish first draft” to get you past that first I-don’t-want-to-do-it hurdle, because you are giving yourself permission to produce utter dross. And it doesn’t matter, because you’re going to go back and improve it – which is a really satisfying process.
(a series of tweets originally sent to @ArrieLay and stored here for posterity…)
Fake it til you make it. Always act like you know what you’re doing, cos You DO – You’re being imperfect, just like everyone else.
Pay attention to people. Focus on empathy. Learn to pair. Learn to collaborate. Celebrate and enable your fellow team members.
Always come to work as yourself. Don’t be afraid to show vulnerabilities, and give others space to show theirs too.
Take risks. Relish your uncomfort zone.
Remember that EVERYBODY feels insecure about their knowledge levels. It’s impossible to know everything, and everybody thinks they are disadvantaged because others know more than them.
Learn to embrace your knowledge gaps. See them as exciting opportunities to learn more. Never be ashamed of them.
Have a questioning attitude, be open about your excitement about learning more. People respond well to it and will help you learn.
Love people. Even the annoying ones. People are great. People are useful. People will help you, whether they mean to or not. 🙂
And for the older amongst us… Age is an advantage, not a curse. Find the wisdom you forgot you had. Age is money in the bank.
Here are some links to some helpful resources for women arriving at or returning to careers in tech: https://insimpleterms.blog/2017/10/13/resources-for-women-arriving-at-or-returning-to-it/
Just a bunch of links really, but hopefully useful…
Mums in technology:
13 places where women can learn to code: https://learntocodewith.me/posts/13-places-women-learn-code/
Code First Girls: https://codefirstgirls.typeform.com/to/ks4bsj
Code First Girls professional courses: http://www.codefirstgirls.org.uk/female-professionals.html