Note: After letting this sink in, and participating on the Year Of Hustle forums, I think I was just making excuses. When I’ve had success “prototyping”, I was doing it with the intent to ship. I could have released my idea and repurposed it later. I think shipping is the habit I should be trying to form, and that it will help me hone my skills better than prototyping without the intent to ship (i. e. dabbling).
Some ideas just aren’t ready to be shipped out. They need more time to germinate. Ideas that aren’t ready to be shipped, though, are often ready to be prototyped.
I had one idea where the plans for building it felt complete, but I wasn’t sure what my goal would be with the released product. I wanted to do more than impress people with pretty graphics. A few weeks later, while I wasn’t thinking about the idea, I thought of a goal, and while I was trying to think of a way to achieve the goal, I realized my idea would be a great way to achieve it. I also came up with another feature for it, that I think will help it stand out.
It would be nice if I’d already prototyped it, and had it sitting in a private repo on GitHub. There was nothing stopping me, except I was hung up on making things I could show people. If, at the time I knew what I wanted to write, I’d shipped other smaller things recently, I might not have run into this stumbling block.
I’m not sure whether it’s shipping that makes prototyping work, or the other way around, but I think developers ought to have a steady diet of both.