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Dzhavat Ushev
Dzhavat Ushev

Posted on • Originally published at

Writing vs reading

This post was originally published on my blog.

Writing is hard. It also takes time to write something. Let alone something good. It’s hard because it engages us on many different levels. Before writing something, one first needs to think about it. Then, as one begins to write, this thought becomes a conversation. Should I write this or that? Should I say it this way or the other? Does it still sound good if I read it out loud? What about grammar and spelling? Editting? Can visuals help to explain the idea better? There are so many possibilities and directions one can take. Writing is creating something out of nothing.

Reading on the other hand is easy. Reading is consuming someone else’s writing. Reading can also engage us on different levels but not necessarily. Reading is engaging only if the writing is engaging and if the reader wants to be engaged. With reading, we can skip content and focus only on the parts that seem interesting and relevant. Reading can lead to questions. Reading can help us learn and understand things better but we don’t know this beforehand. We have to finish reading a piece of content before we can say if it was worth it.

Let’s take writing a blog post as an example. It’s not unusual for me to spend an hour writing a post that takes just a few minutes to read. Sure, writing is a skill and one gets better and faster over time but the writing vs reading ratio will never be 1:1. Not even close.

Why am I sharing this?

Sometimes I come across an advice that goes something like “For every post that you read, you should write one as well”. While I agree with the idea of creating content, I think the advice is unrealistic. If I have to follow it literally, I’d be forever in debt. Writing and reading are not equal. Reading also takes time but it’s generally faster to read something that to write it.

So I have a proposal. Instead of putting unrealistic expectations upon ourselves, let’s have a more balanced approach. My advice then becomes “For every 10th post that you read, you should write one as well”. If every 10th is still too much for you, try with every 20th. The point is to not feel pressured or “behind” some artificial schedule.

Take your time and just write.

Top comments (4)

eagskunst profile image
Emmanuel Guerra

Thanks for the advice. I will add that being good at writing stuff in this times will boost your career: not only when writing about something you learn but also when communicating with your team.

On a side note: how do you track the numbers of articles you have read? I will like to start applying a 20/1 but will like to have an automatic way of knowing when I reach 20 articles read

dzhavat profile image
Dzhavat Ushev

Completely agree that writing will boost ones career. I've experienced this first hand with my current job. I was contacted on LinkedIn by a recruiter because I had been recommended by a friend. I replied and went to an interview. During the interview I was told that they had seen my blog and had thought that someone who cares to publish stuff with the world is worth having on the team.

I've also been contacted by other people offering me to write for their publications. So I totally recommend writing. One never knows how many doors a simple blog post might open. Every written word is worth it.

As for tracking a number of read articles, I don't usually do it. I've been feeling bad about myself lately because I've been reading a lot but not writing as much. This also made me feel being "behind" in some way. That's why I wrote this post. To say that it's okay if the ratio between reading and writing is 10:1 or 20:1, or more. That actually feels more balanced than always trying to play some catch up game. Hope it makes sense. :)

kovidr profile image
Kovid Rathee

@dzhavat - I have been thinking along the same lines. I was about to write something about writing but I saw your post and I thought I'd rather share my thoughts here. Over the years, I have found writing to be extremely beneficial. I see writing as a tool for organizing my own thoughts. That, in itself, is a powerful thing. Most of our thoughts get lost in blabber, stupid arguments and not listening to others or just being adamant and not changing our points of view - why? we don't listen.

Well, writing about something brings back all that you have learnt about something from your glacier archive-like disk to your super high-speed RAM. That's the effect that it has. Once it is there, you can sort it quickly. Obviously, in-memory stuff is costly because memory is costly. Therefore writing is costly. I ask for forgiveness for that bad analogy. Moving on.

The process of writing is great for learning new things. Not only that, I think that it's a great reinforcer of the knowledge you already possess. On different platforms, I keep writing these posts about tech that I have worked on - I don't think I have ever felt that I have wasted my time writing about that. I always end up learning something new. And now, once it is written by me - there's no compulsion to remember all that stuff because I know that there's a braindump of my thoughts somewhere in the cyberworld that I could always go back to.

All in all, a great experience if you ask me. Kudos for posting this!

dzhavat profile image
Dzhavat Ushev

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Really like the part where you say that once something is written, there's no need to remember it anymore. One can simply go back to the post.

Sometimes I have an idea for a post/app/site/project/whatever that just gets stuck in my head. If I can't stop thinking about it for a couple of days, I know it's a good idea to work on or at least write about it. If I don't get it out of my head in some way, it just keeps coming back. Writing is also a good way to get it out. Then I can immediately forget it and only remember where to find it in case I need it later. Weird but it's true :D

Thanks for reading my post. Keep writing. Stay safe :)