Thursday, January 01, 2004

java Code

Has writing poetry influenced the way you write code?

Writing code certainly feels very similar to writing poetry. When I'm writing poetry, it feels like the center of my thinking is in a particular place, and when I'm writing code the center of my thinking feels in the same kind of place. It's the same kind of concentration. So, I'm thinking up possibilities, I'm thinking about, well, so how do I reinvent the code, gee, you know, what's the simplest way to do this.

I'm thinking about things like simplicity -- how easy is it going to be for someone to look at it later? How well is it fulfilling the overall design that I have in mind? How well does it fit into the architecture? If I were writing a very long poem with many parts, I would be thinking, "Okay, how does this piece fit in with the other pieces? How is it part of the bigger picture?" When coding, I'm doing similar things, and if you look at the source code of extremely talented programmers, there's beauty in it. There's a lot of attention to compression, using the underlying programming language in a way that's easy to penetrate. Yes, writing code and writing poetry are similar.

I have given a keynote called "Triggers and Practice." In writing, a trigger is something that enters your mind and causes you to start a poem, or a story, or whatever you want to write. The trigger could be a scene, a line, an image that comes to you, or just something remembered. The poet Richard Hugo believes that all writing is creative writing in that you don't know what's going to appear on the page until you write. All writing relies on triggers where you write something and respond to it.

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