Why Techies Should Learn to Write Better

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You must already hate this article if you’re a back end developer or software engineer. Well, how much ever you’re dreading what this article has to say, please don’t skip it. Writing is a crucial skill that can easily be learned. But most importantly, it can make considerable changes in your career. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Express yourself in a brief and concise manner so others can understand you

It’s good to begin with the basics.

  • Your resume must stay updated: If your resume isn’t the latest version or doesn’t read well, and is stuffed with buzzwords and acronyms  – you will not be able to get the job you’re applying for. When you describe all that you’ve accomplished over the years in a concise manner, the chances of you bagging an interview are much higher.
  • Ensure that your accomplishments are known to the management: You must write about what you’re doing in a way that others are able to actually understand. If not, there’s no way that the management will be informed about the impact that your work has had. The techies who “toot their own horn” are the ones that get noticed, so don’t shy away from promoting yourself.
  • Network with people outside your circle: It is a common fact that the majority of developers are introverts and tend to only hang out with a couple of people who they feel comfortable with. However, writing and sharing your content online automatically invites interaction with other people. For example, if you wrote a guest blog post for a tech company and added some coding that you’re having a problem with, you could open the door for many responses in the comments section. These could include ideas on how to work the code or improve it, what you may be overlooking or doing incorrectly, or what must be done. While some of the comments may be annoying, you will learn a lot from others and will be able to branch out your network.

What is often overlooked is that sharing thoughts with others through writing can help you reach out to a lot of people and further enable them to learn from you. This is a two-way street, and you may be able to use this kind of collaboration to learn something from other people too (as mentioned in the third point above). You may even end up finding like-minded people, and could even find a new job opportunity through this more enhanced network by posting online.

Being a good writer has a lot of benefits, but you have to keep practicing it. If you don’t like to write because you believe you’re a terrible writer with awful grammar and a ton of spelling mistakes, here are a few suggestions:

Invest in Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style”

If you don’t wish to buy a copy of your own, you can borrow it from someone you know in the marketing or communications department. This book focuses on punctuation and grammar, along with sentence structure, and more. You can also purchase the Kindle version on Amazon, which you can read on your smartphone.

Take a Coursera class or another MOOC

There are many online courses like Coursera, Skillshare and others available that provide lessons on the basics of writing. Dedicating a few hours after your work or on weekends to learn about writing concisely is definitely worth it.

Keep in mind that you aren’t seeking to turn yourself into a professional writer, but rather, just want to learn the basics to be able to put together content in a coherent and meaningful way.

Make friends with writers

Surround yourself with other writers who can go through your writing and give you some constructive feedback. Perhaps there is a colleague who also writes, making friends with such people can help you find a mentor who wouldn’t mind helping you to learn and grow.

Find an online editing tool suitable for you

There are several online editing tools like Hemmingway and (my personal favourite) Grammarly that can help you. Whatever you decide to use, pay attention to finding the one that coaches you on writing well rather than changing your writing style without any explanation or reasoning as to why it did so. Try out a few different editing tools or ask experienced writers the editing tool they use and why.

Final thoughts

If you’re worried that you haven’t reached the stage of being an expert on a topic you wish to write on, guess what? You don’t need to be! You can research the topic and learn all you need to before actually starting to write.

You may also be anxious that your posts aren’t good enough. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.  Every single writer (or human being, for that matter) makes mistakes and readers (especially devs) will probably call you out. But instead of letting this demotivate you, just go ahead and correct your errors, and in situations where what you wrote was actually correct but just not understood correctly then be sure to educate the reader about it.

Don’t worry about writing in a very simple way, coming across as an amateur, or writing in a technical enough manner that most people don’t understand. You will find your audience and get into the cycle over time. Just write as often as you can and in time it will become second nature.

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