If there is one truth to the past couple of years it is that my side projects have kept me from losing my mind.
They’ve been an outlet for creativity, a distraction to focus on and they have been meaningful exercises in the type of code I simply love to write. As I no longer code for my day job, side projects have helped me maintain the love for tech that brought me over from aviation way back before I even knew what WordPress was.
Like anything, though I sometimes wonder if it is worth keeping my various projects going. While I code for myself these days, and don’t much care if anyone uses the code I write, I still tend to wonder “why” all too often and, when it comes down to it, I do have three reasons why I keep them going.
Side projects are a way for me to be creative
We have few other hobbies anymore and, as a result, my code is the one place where I feel like I can really express myself. I don’t need to write a masterpiece or make a million dollars with them, I simply need them to form and mold software that I want to use. No one paying me means I can build tools to do exactly what I want them to do and that is a pretty great freedom to have.
Side projects keep my skills up
Beyond just being a creative outlet, side projects do serve to help me keep my coding skills up should I ever need them again.
My current role as an engineering manager means that all my time goes into efforts beyond code. While that can be rewarding in and of itself I came to tech to write code and my side projects help me make sure I can still do that. Who knows, given the tech economy anymore that might come in very handy at some point in the future.
Side projects are fun
Most of all, for me side projects are just fun. I don’t want them to be a “side hustle” or my future job. I want them as a distraction from the day-to-day and, in that, all my side projects have been exactly what I’ve needed, especially these past few years.
I’ve tried to turn my side projects into work a few times and it hasn’t usually worked out well. These days that’s just fine. Building a project for the sake of building a project is just what I’ve needed lately and I really hope I can keep that as my only reason for them for many years to come.