January 14, 2019
DevAdvent 2018 Retrospective
Before it gets too far into 2019, I wanted to write my thoughts on how my DevAdvent experience in 2018 was. As a preface, I had heard of DevAdvent years ago through the site 24 WAYS and had always thought it was a great initiative. However, I never attempted to try doing my own since I never thought I could generate enough content or I would forget to plan it out.
On the fateful evening of 2018, I was in New York and had just seen Network on Broadway featuring Bryan Cranston and Tatiana Maslany ❤️. The restaurant I was getting dinner at was crowded and there was a bit of a wait. So I opened up Twitter only to encounter the following tweet:
Tomorrow I’m gonna start a dev advent calendar. Every day from the 1st to the 25th, I’ll highlight a new person and a project of theirs that I’m into and think people would benefit from knowing about. ❤️— Sarah Drasner (@sarah_edo) November 30, 2018
And for some reason, before my self-doubt could set in or reason could set in, I decided to join in.
Inspired from @sarah_edo's #devAdvent calendar concept, I will commit to releasing some form of content every day.— Ben Hong (@bencodezen) December 1, 2018
It might be a blog post, tutorials, live-streamed coding sessions, coding challenges, or even an AMA session!
Feel free to submit requests below.
This was crazy on multiple levels because:
- I made the decision spontaneously
- I decided to announce it publicly
- Content needed to be generated daily
- Did I forget to mention I had no idea what I was going to do?
You see. A sane person would already have an outline or even prepared most (if not all) of the content ahead of time. Me on the other hand? I was like, "Meh. I'll figure it out as I go." And while it would be an exaggeration to say that I would live to regret those words, I had no idea what a crazy ride it would be.
That month was an absolute whirlwind as far as trying to figure out content that I could do for DevAdvent. The tricky part was not copying what other people were doing since it would lead to redundant content for everyone else. So I had to try and be as original as possible even though I had done practically zero planning for this.
So like anyone under immense pressure to deliver within a tight deadline, I bunkered down and figured out what the essential parts were so it wouldn't be a complete disaster. 😅 So what was the key to improvising DevAdvent content on the fly? Create content with reckless abandon.
In other words, I created content with whatever concept or topic inspired me. Here's what some of my ideas were:
- Shoutout Tweets
- Blog Posts
- Live Streaming
And once I had those initial ideas, I used them as a foundation to catapult into other ones based on whatever my interest was at the time. Some ideas that I had sketched out included:
- Super Smash Bros. inspired character selection
- Harry Potter inspired CodePens
- Code challenges
- Product reviews
- And so forth...
While I ran out of time to fully execute on some of these concepts, the sheer act of coming up with idea after idea to have something for each day was incredible training. Was it difficult? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Even though I did not manage to complete the full 24 days, I did manage to create 20 days of content of varying levels. And although I did not know it at the time, DevAdvent would prove to be the crucible I needed to get me out of my rut. I have spent so much time doubting my self-worth and value that doing something crazy like this was the medicine I needed.
Looking forward to an even better DevAdvent calendar later this year!