I hated writing in high school. It wasn’t objective like my favorite subjects, math and science. It also didn’t help that we had to write about old, hard-to-understand literature like Shakespeare. But my perspective on writing changed once I started working full-time as a software engineer.
If you want to learn something in deep then try to explain it to others. This is the famous advice from one of the most famous Nobel Prize winning Physicists Richard Feynman. So, writing something with the intention of communicating it to others is the best way to get to know it better yourself first. And you'll be surprised how little you knew about it!
Totally agree. When trying to break down complex ideas into logical structure you also detach yourself from your "box" and your perspective and this can bring you new valuable insights. And often does when I do it.
Crafting public documents is also a high leverage activity and can bring you a lot of recognition in the organisation if you do it well.
I started writing on substack too, with one of the goals to improve as a writer, but also that's a different type of writing than I do at my engineering job and I think I'm enjoying it so far
Appreciate it, Thank you!
This article was brilliant. Technical writing is a difficult skill to develop. I'm a structural engineer and it's a big part of my job. Sometimes it feels nebulous, like you can't quite describe something in the way that you want. But once you read a clear, succinct explanation for a complex concept, it unlocks a hidden layer of understanding. Good writing is the backbone of everything I've ever learned.
Do you want to collab? I write AI Made Simple (150K+) and Tech Made Simple (25K+). Came across your work from Luca Rossi, and seems like we have synergistic audiences. Let me know if it interests you.
I just started trying writing and it's helping me to put order on topics that I find complex in a coherent way, so it really helping me thinking better.
Very good article!
I like this a lot and definitely agree with the premise! My perspective is somewhat reversed - I was always drawn to the 'subjective' academic pursuits, and my first career was performing as a professional musician. When I made the transition to writing code, I noticed that thinking 'algorithmically' helped me communicate complex ideas with more nuance and clarity, both in written and in verbal form. This has been an asset so far in my second career as a software developer.
Thank you for the inspiring post!
Consistent writing helps to improve my communication and thinking skills.
Writing will forever be important, I write and then ask ChatGPT to make it shorter, more readable or in list form. Either way, it is an exercise in gaining clarity.
I couldn’t agree more that writing is so important in collaborations. I learned a lot from you on technical writing during our collaboration.
I love the collaboration and benefits of tools like Miro and Lucid. But, when it comes time to capture, writing a document seems to work best to finalize a concept. Why? Well, for me it helps identify hidden logic that may be missing from a conversation. It helps the information travel beyond the participants in the meeting, and it captures intent, debate, for others who may come into the project later who need to be brought up to speed. Writing is essential and high performance teams do this in my experience.
Reading, writing, and speaking are 3-fold and for communication, and communication is incredibly useful.
Thank You so much for this
I believe that writing would make software engineers better communicators. It would help us communicate our ideas clearly to stakeholders and our team mates effectively, in a space where technical documentation is so important on projects, I know this is an important skill that engineers need to get better at.
I think the people who can code well and write good technical documentation are going to transition well into the fully AI-assisted world. So much of what I'm seeing involves not so much the ability to code well, but the ability to write clearly about what you want your code to do. I think the people who can write decent code but struggle to write good documentation (comments and formal docs) are going to struggle to make the transition.
The tools are going to write more and more of the code for us. We're going to be spending more time writing about the code and less time writing code.
Recommend having a pocket journal, so you can dot down ideas and bring it when you go somewhere.
You can use your phone to type down your ideas, but for me, it's more fun and helpful to write them down in a journal. It comes down to personal preference, but there have been studies that show handwriting is more effective for learning and will lead to better understanding than typing.
Typing is faster tho 🙂
This raises the question, is writing with pen and paper essential? Or would typing have the same helpful effects?