To Robyn's point in particular, I believe the processes of rehearsing, visualizing, and planning have extraordinarily high value. Visualization and rehearsal are vital, in my opinion, to doing anything well. Ask pilots, athletes, actors, public speakers, programmers, .... Check out "Blue Angels: A Year in the Life" from the Discovery Channel for a really good example.
But there's a time when the incremental value of planning drops beneath the value of actually doing something. I think the location of that "time" and the concept of obsessiveness are related. I'm learning that it's earlier than I had believed when I was younger.
The one sentence in my original blog post that captures the idea I want to emphasize is, "I'm not advocating that design shouldn't happen; I'm advocating that you not pretend your design is build-worthy before you can possibly know."
Thinking of all this reminds me of a "tree house" I wanted to build when I was about 10 years old. I use quotation marks, because it wasn't meant to have anything to do with a tree at all. Here was the general idea of the design:My dad was a pilot, so when I was 10, I was too. The front of this thing was going to have an instrument panel and some windows, and I was going to fly this thing everywhere I could think of.
I drew detailed design drawings, and I dug a hole. (If you have children, by the way, make sure they dig a hole sometime before they grow up. Trust me.) My plan called for a 2x4 frame with plywood walls screwed to that frame. It's when I started gathering the 2x4 lumber that my plan fell apart. See, I had naively planned that 2x4 lumber is 2 inches thick by 4 inches wide. It's not. It's 1-1/2 inches thick by 3-1/2 inches wide. That meant I'd have to redraw my whole plan. Using fractions.
I don't remember exactly what happened next, but I do remember exactly what didn't happen. I didn't redraw my whole plan, and I didn't ever build the "tree house." Eventually, I did finally fill in that hole in the yard.
Here are some lessons to take away from that experience:
- Not understanding other people's specs well enough is one way to screw up your project.
- Actually getting started is a sure way to learn what you need to know about those other people's specs.
- You learn things in reality that you just don't learn when you're working on paper.
- Not building the "tree house" at all meant that I'd have to wait until I was older to learn that putting wood on (or into) the ground is an impermanent solution.
- The problems that you think during the design phase are your big problems may not be your actual big problems.