I just finished watching the first season of True Detective for probably the fourth time. It's the complex characters, the intricate narrative structure, and the cinematography (it's shot on film!) that make me come back to it again and again. And, let's be honest, who can get bored of Rustin Cohle? Practically every word that comes out of this character's mouth is ethereal.
I was doing what I normally do after consuming a great piece of content — do some research on its creator(s). That is when I came across this video featuring some wise words from the series creator Nic Pizzolatto. He's talking in the context of being in the field of creative writing, and offers his advice on becoming a good writer. I'm not aiming to get a job as a writer, but I think his words can be applied to most jobs that have a creative aspect to them (Tim Ferriss says "at the very highest level, at the top of the top at each field, and across those fields, there are commonalities"). Being a good software engineer certainly does, in my opinion. Here's what he said, slightly paraphrased:
If you want to be a writer, stop being a personal assistant. You can't learn to be a writer if you're spending 15 hours a day taking care of somebody. You need to go live somewhere where you have a really low overhead, and dedicate yourself for years to learning how to do this, instead of hoping, well, if I service the right executive the right amount of years, maybe they'll let me get into a writers room or something like that. The best thing you can walk in with is good work. And, the way you get good work is by learning your craft and and confronting who you are as a creator. What do you do well? What is your voice?
How do I apply these words to my life? Well, I want to be great at writing software. I relate to what Nic said because that's exactly how I think about getting better at software engineering and computer science: have a low overhead, learn the fundamentals really well, practice as much as you can, and, find what you're good at.