Perfectionist's block

March 4, 2009 at 9:15 PMAndre Loker

So you’re reading all the blog entries and books about patterns & practices, how to design great applications and write great code and what not and you think to yourself: “gosh, with that knowledge I’m going to write the best applications EVER!”. And than you’re firing up your machine and want to start developing that greatest app and… just can’t. You simply lock up, because you are afraid to write something sub-par because you miss one of the techniques to write great applications. And at the end of the day, you’ve created nothing. Instead you hate the code you’ve written before, knowing that there is so much about it to improve.

Does this sound familiar? Even if it does not to you, it does to me – at least for my own pet projects. Sometimes I’m facing this very fear of creating sub-optimal code, an appearance I like to call “perfectionist’s block” (as in “writer’s block). By the way: with projects I’m doing for customers I’m not facing the block because of deadlines etc. that keep me going.

What to do to break through this block? I remind myself that creating nothing at all is certainly worse than something imperfect. Writing semi-perfect code is no problem if you keep in mind that you always improve it later. Backed by a covering set of unit tests (or specs for the BDD people), code can almost always be safely refactored to a better version. I think that getting things done to the best of our knowledge and intentions is the best we can do.

If I feel a perfectionist’s block coming up the next time, maybe reading this post will help me :-)

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