Breaking the silence

Breaking the silence

I’ve been slacking. I know.

I have not published any new pages to the Execution Plan Reference since September. The last release of new content for the Execution Plan Video Training is even longer back, that was in May. No other blog posts, except from a few promotional posts. And until last Monday, nothing added to my YouTube channel either.

Okay, I did still speak at various conferences. I answered the odd question at the #sqlhelp Twitter channel. I think I responded to all mails I received (but if not … my apologies and feel free to re-send!).

So you may have wondered …


Why has my productivity dropped this much? Why didn’t I publish more stuff in the last months?

And the answer is simple. I felt a bit worn out, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I used to.

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to do some of the things we do. Yes, we. I’m not just talking about myself. There are dozens of community heroes who keep giving and giving to the SQL Server community. Most of them far more than I have ever done. And I do want you, my reader, to be aware that each and every one of them likely puts in more time than you might imagine. And in most cases, that’s unpaid spare time. Helping the community is not our job!

Whether you are reading a blog or article, watching a recorded conference session, getting an answer on twitter, or in any other way receiving community help, be aware of the investment someone has made. A blog post that you read in five minutes might have taken an hour to write, or more, and that hour of writing may then even have been preceded by hours or even days of research. A one-hour conference session typically takes dozens to hundreds of hours of preparation. That short video you find on YouTube might have taken the presenter ten or more takes before they got it right, in addition to the time to prepare it, the time to edit the video, and so on.

I am not writing this to whine. I am not writing this to try and squeeze more gratitude out of the recipients of the help that so many people offer freely. I am writing this to help explain why I’ve been silent for so long.


Knowing how much time and effort it takes us to help people in the community, you may wonder why we even do it. And the answer is: because it’s fun!

“Fun?” you may wonder, “That’s your idea of fun?”

Yes. Yes it is. I know your idea of fun is different. That’s okay. We all have our weird hobbies and our strange secret delights. This is mine. For me, it is fun to write a good explanation of an execution plan operator and know that some people will get better at their jobs after reading it. For me, it is fun to see he lights go in the faces of a conference audience when I explain a difficult concept. (Or to imagine that happening when I present virtually and cannot actually see my audience).

But hobbies are not a constant. Fun is not a constant. Sometimes, things that normally give us joy start to get boring, repetitive. At such times, other things suddenly seem to become much more interesting and fun.

If knitting is your job, then you will knit every day. If knitting is your hobby, then if one day you feel you are not in the mood you’ll put the needles away and do something else. That same thing happened to me. I found no fun anymore in the things I used to enjoy. So I put them aside and picked up other hobbies.

Could I have forced myself to do this? Sure, I could have. But this is a hobby. Not a job. I don’t get paid enough for this to justify doing it when it doesn’t give me fun or satisfaction.


The reason I write this today is that I noticed that lately I have been finding more joy in doing these things. I’ve started to do some recording for YouTube. I have finally finished another video for the execution plan video training, and started work on the next one. No new blog posts yet, but I expect that that, too, will come.

Is this a temporary situation? Will I spike for a short time, then fall back again? Or will I soon be churning out stuff the same way and the same pace I did a year ago? Honestly, I do not know. Only the future will tell.


Sorry for the long absence. I know some of you have been waiting patiently, or impatiently, for more of my content. I won’t make any promises, but I will say that I have not forgotten you.

And also sorry for the personal and entirely non-technical rant. I will return to more technical content soon. I hope.

Here’s the execution plan … now what?
Execution Plans in Azure Data Studio

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12 Comments. Leave new

  • Bryant McClellan
    February 9, 2022 16:21

    You and others who do what you do are to be commended. When your hobby or off-hours occupation is basically your day job and you do both well, the passion shows. I imagine most who cook for a living come to dread cooking again when they get home.

    Back in the day before I was paid to write code, I was an auto mechanic. I can tell you that many of the most competent auto mechanics you ever knew drove some of the most questionable cars you ever saw. They just weren’t interested in their day job being their night occupation as well. These days I get to do both, a day job I love and some tinkering in the garage when it suits me.

    I, for one, appreciate what you do, the passion you bring, the knowledge you dispense. Far from seeing a rant, I welcome you back. And I am sure MANY others see it the same way. Thanks!

  • You put in words what I was feeling, thank you! It’s been hard to get to get back after slacking through the holidays. Also if there is a lot of stuff to do, the extra curriculum is the first thing that gets dropped.

    • Hugo Kornelis
      February 9, 2022 18:19

      Seems I am not alone in how I fee. Glad I could put into words what you are feeling too, Zikato. Hang in there. Put family, personal health, and work first (in that order). Everything else can take a back seat if needed.

  • Welcome back Hugo.Any and every effort you put in is appreciated and your documentation has been helping out on more than one occasion. But this shouldn’t result in an obligation for you to keep producing. You shouldn’t feel pressure either. As you wrote above, it’s about fun. If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.

    • Hugo Kornelis
      February 10, 2022 12:52

      Thanks for your kind words, Reitse

      Luckily I can say I never really felt pressure.
      I will admit that I did at times feel guilty when I moved all my planned activities to the next sprint in my personal planning but I have not let that feeling of guilt trick me into feeling pressured to change my priorities.

  • Good to see you’re back at it Hugo! I saw myself in a similar position last year. I think I’m now getting back at it and also have fun again! 🙂

    • Hugo Kornelis
      February 10, 2022 12:54

      Thanks, Nicky.
      Based on comments I get here and responses I get through other channels, lots of people in the community are now or have been in a similar spot. I hope all of them will, like me, put their personal health before community contributions.
      Glad to hear you’re having fun again. I think fun is a necessary requirement to do the stuff people like you and I (and many others) do for community. My fun is also returning. But I’ll still start up a game or drop on the couch with a stupid TV show if I don’t feel like doing SQL stuff in my spare time and I hope all other #SQLFamily people do the same.

  • Thank you for what you do and thank you for explaining how the joy and fun have been missing.

  • Totally understood. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for all you have done. It’s made a very real, and very positive impact.

    If you look at my blog, 2021 was about 1/3 the normal output. I think a lot of people are struggling a bit. Know you’re not alone.

  • […] I will not deny that. There are two reasons for that. One is that I have personally gone through a period of feeling worn out and unmotivated to do community work. And the second reason is that I really wanted to make sure that the quality of the videos is as […]


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