2012/08/12

The Value of Writing

Part of who I am as a person and as a professional, is being a writer. Writing is something that not only helps me express my perspective on various things, it gives me joy. I think it also helps me think more clearly about various issues, and yes it does make me a better developer by getting in the habit of writing (prose or code) for the sake of consumption by somebody/something else (people or computers).

I recently came across some very nicely written (!) pieces on writing, and am reproducing them below because they are worth reading and spreading the word about. Admittedly, these are self-serving, but they are good nonetheless. These are all taken from the book 'Getting Real' by 37 Signals (you can download it here, I highly recommend it to anybody developing software or managing software development).



Hire Good Writers

If you are trying to decide between a few people to fill a position, always hire the better writer. It doesn't matter if that person is a designer, programmer, marketer, salesperson, or whatever, the writing skills will pay off. Effective, concise writing and editing leads to effective, concise code, design, emails, instant messages, and more.

That's because being a good writer is about more than words. Good writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else's shoes. They know what to omit. They think clearly. And those are the qualities you need.

- Getting Real by 37 Signals



An Organized Mind

Good writing skills are an indicator of an organized mind which is capable of arranging information and argument in systematic fashion and also helping (not making) other people understand things. It spills over into code, personal communications, instant messaging (for those long-distance collaborations), and even such esoteric concepts as professionalism and reliability.

- Dustin J. Mitchell, developer (and printed in Getting Real by 37 Signals)



Clear Writing Leads to Clear Thinking

Clear writing leads to clear thinking. You don't know what you know until you try to express it. Good writing is partly a matter of character. Instead of doing what's easy for you, do what's easy for your reader.

- Michael A Covington, Professor of Computer Science at The University of Georgia (from How to Write More Clearly, Think More Clearly, and Learn Complex Material More Easily) (and printed in Getting Real by 37 Signals)

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