How Streaming Made Me a Better Dev

I've been a streamer on Twitch for about 3 years now. For the majority of that time, I streamed video game content. I love to stream because it lets you meet and chat with other people who share the same interests as you while doing the things you love.

Recently, I started streaming in the Software & Game Development category, sharing content of myself working on personal projects and doing other dev-related activities. Soon after starting, I realized that streaming this kind of content is not only enjoyable but can be beneficial to the development process in ways that solitary work isn't.

In this article, I talk about some of the things I learned by streaming dev content and explain how streaming might help you become a better dev.

  1. It Gives You A Reason To Talk Out Your Ideas

    More than once I have seen devs on Twitter mention how talking out their process while they're coding helps them stay grounded and focused, and I can relate to this a lot. More often than not, when I'm writing code in my head, I find it hard to think in terms of what I want to accomplish, and instead I tend to think in terms of what I want to type; for example, if I'm writing a for loop in JavaScript, it's easier for me to type out the code than it is to reason about internally what the code accomplishes. When I'm streaming, I find myself proactively announcing what I want to do or what I'm thinking of doing before I start doing it. Not only does it keep your audience engaged and up-to-date with your thought process, but for some reason, it makes it a lot easier to write the actual code.

  2. It Lets You Meet The World's Developers

    One thing I wasn't expecting when I started streaming programming content is that I'd get a lot of viewers from outside the United States. In fact, I'd say that most of my viewers are from foreign countries (Argentina, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates just to name a few). It feels really good to meet people from around the world who have similar goals as I do. I often ask viewers from other countries what the job market is like there, and very often I hear that job-seeking is difficult, and how they wish they could live in the US or another western country so they could have more opportunities for employment and better chances at success. In some way, hearing these kinds of anecdotes has put things into perspective for me, and I always wish my viewers the best of luck and assure them that they (and I!) will get that dream job eventually.

  3. It Helps You Stay Focused

    If you've ever studied or done work at a library, coffee shop, or another public setting, you'll understand what I mean when I say that streaming helps you stay focused. As soon as you turn on your stream, you're presented with a sense of responsibility to keep working. After all, when you're streaming, you're essentially telling the viewers who decide to click on your stream that you're doing X activity, and if you don't continue doing X activity as long as the stream is live, you'll feel as though you're not fulfilling your promise to the end. In short, being live keeps you on your toes and perpetually instills an urgency to Get Shit Done.

  4. It Boosts Your Productivity

    Whenever I stream, I usually set a goal that I want to achieve by the end of the stream, e.g. "I want to build this React component" or "I want to fix my project's TypeScript errors." Your audience will thank you too because it lets them know that there is a general purpose to that day's stream. And even though I sometimes don't fully finish the goal I set out to achieve, declaring the goal pushes me to finish as much as I can. Sure, sometimes your priorities might shift midstream - maybe a bug surfaces that you're not prepared for and you need to shift focus to fixing it instead of polishing your app's CSS. That's totally fine, because as all devs know (or will inevitably find out), programming is not always smooth sailing. There have been times when I've struggled to figure something out and a friendly viewer has suggested solutions or possible avenues to take to solve the problem. Very recently, a kind viewer helped me spot an issue in my code that I just wasn't able to recognize on my own, and moments later the bug was fixed. Bugs are never fun, but on-stream debugging can add a silver lining to the process by encouraging rapport between the streamer and their viewers.

I hope this article was helpful and might even inspire you to start streaming your own tech content. Oh, and check me out on Twitch for some fun programming streams!

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