Programming’s reputation, in general, is dependent on logic, discipline, and structure. But as someone who is now trying to inhabit both of these worlds, I can tell you that writing also depends on order and consistency just as much as programming relies on creative flow, clarity, and communication.
While writing I spend a lot of time staring at the screen trying to formulate a pattern in my head on what would be the best way to proceed. Should I open with a quote, an example, a question or should I just dive into the meat of the topic? I do almost all of the above things when I am writing code as well. Only the things that I do are different, but the process is the same.
Since I have been coding for more time than I have been writing articles, I tend to apply my knowledge when I write.
As a programmer, it is very important that you know what you need as the final outcome. You can’t guess, it has to be concrete. If you expect your program to calculate the average from a list, you cannot expect the program to return the total.
When you apply that skill to writing, you know what your article is supposed to convey. Instead of going around the bush, you can hit right on the target.
Programmers are well known for their problem-solving skills and to do that you need to understand the problem at hand, just knowing the problem is not enough, it requires attention to detail and then formulating a solution. When you write you have to understand the readers. The more you understand your readers the easier it gets to write.
You can write anything, on any topic, and it will still interest your user if you write it well.
As Kent Beck rightly said, you need to make it work first and then you can start to think about making it better and faster. The first version of any code is always written to solve the problem and nothing else.
If you want to be a good writer, you have to be able to structure your stories and revisit your writing in various drafts. Strong writing is never created in the first draft; it requires a shit ton of work. And just as programmers refactor their code, writers “refactor” their narratives, striving to eliminate unnecessary paragraphs. And the most prolific programmers and prophetic writers get to where they are because they are incredibly disciplined when it comes to their craft.
Writers create for their readers. Programmers create for their users. Neither of them allows for complete solitude, and both of them force you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Programmers have to think about how their users experience an application, but also the readability of their code when it comes to other developers working with you. Similarly, writers have to empathize with their readers in order to make them believable and reliable.
Writing is a very good way to enhance your logical thinking. It teaches you how to structure your thoughts.
Having programming experience has been really helpful for me to write blogs. I tend to follow the same process and apply the same principles. And if you are good at programming then you will definitely be good at writing. It just a matter of looking at things from a different lens.
I hope you found this article useful! You can follow me on Twitter. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below. I’ll be glad to help out!
Previously published behind a paywall at https://levelup.gitconnected.com/4-reasons-why-programmers-can-be-good-writers-a2598fdc3c2b