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SinnerSchrader Engineers

Writing as a developer is like going on a journey

Tobias Timm
My name is Tobias, I'm 30 years old and living in Augsburg, Germany. I am working as a software developer for over 7 years now. Nowadays I'm working with react, react-native, node.js, graphql, ...
・4 min read

Do you often feel the urge to write an excellent blog article, or do you not care about it at all? Your choice doesn't matter here, and it is neither good nor bad.

As a developer, you need to handle a lot of reading, writing technical documentation, and explain to non-technical people how you would approach specific technical solutions. Maybe you can already read it between the line; the keyword I'm looking for is communication.

Communication is critical in the developer's life. So how can you relate this to writing a blog article?
Writing itself can be a joyful experience, where you can express your emotions and creativity in a completely new way. With writing, you can reflect on yourself and experience situations from the perspective of a different person.

Do you want an example?

Think of the last README file you have written. Have you adequately tested it and tried it out, like a person grabbing your GitHub repository? If not, do it!

Sooner or later, you will experience that maybe some critical pieces of information would be helpful or even required to know for your repository, and you forgot to mention them within your README.

Another example? Here we go.

A new junior developer joins your team, and you need to explain how insert your fancy framework here works. To make it easier to memorize it, you should also write it down.

Have you ever tried to explain your beloved framework to starters or non-technical people in an easy way or even write it down for them?

Okay, so writing is an essential skill to learn as a developer, but how can I overcome myself by doing it more often?

If you ask most developers why they don't write more often, the most common answers are:

  • "I have no time for that."
  • "I don't like it."
  • "I don't even know what I should write about."

I have no time for that

I can emphasize myself with that statement. Most of my days are fully packed with work stuff, and if I can finally spare some hours/minutes, they are most often blocked by other topics that I wanted to explore.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to loose this situation.
At least I can share some tips/tasks for better handling.

  • Reprioritize your calendar and check if it is vital that you attend every meeting
  • Create a blocker for ~30 minutes dedicated to writing
  • Ask your colleagues for help; for example; they could participate in a meeting instead, take over a particular task, ... .

I don't like it

Writing like every other activity isn't for everyone, which is completely fine, but can you say that you tried it out long enough?
To get a grasp on your emotions and motivation towards writing, set yourself a challenge. Make a week dedicated to writing.

The goal should be a small article about a topic you like. Every day try to write at least for thirty minutes; it doesn't matter if you write some words or can even phrase sentences within the 30 minutes.
You have a ready-to-publish blog article at the end of the week, and you should post it!

It isn't good, or do you think it isn't perfect?
Try not to be too hard on yourself. Small steps are the key to success, and feedback is more than welcome. If you don't want to publish your article, give it to a friend or colleague and talk about it.

So how do you feel after the completion of this task? Happy, excited, stressed, bored? Sort your emotions and try to retake this exercise after 3-4 weeks. If your emotions and feelings haven't changed, you either found a new hobby, or writing isn't your correct fit; it should be something you enjoy, not something you feel like you need to do.

I don't even know what I should write about

There are several creative methods for brainstorming topics you can write about, but for starters, take your current technology stack and start with the simple things.

  • How to set up a server with technology xyz
  • Creating a blog with abc
  • ...

This is covered all over the internet

Maybe it is, but does it cover your perspective? I bet not. There is at least one or two things that you would do differently than the other blog post.
It is crucial and significant to share that with the whole world!

Another great way to explore topics is to ask your colleagues or friends. Maybe there are some particular questions nobody has answered before.

tl;dr

I have mentioned several times how vital writing is for me as a developer, and like every other activity, it can be a challenging journey. If you don't like it, try not to force writing on you, it should be something you enjoy doing.
If you like it or haven't tried it out, try it! Don't be picky or too hard on yourself with your first result. Mistakes are allowed, and there is no perfect article/documentation.
To make it easier to start or to get into writing:

  • Set yourself a goal to write something in a certain amount of time. For example, write a small article by the end of the week.
  • Pick a topic covered by your daily work. Which framework are you using in your current tech stack? Try to explain how it works under the hood or set up a project with it.
  • Reserve ~30 minutes a day in writing something. It can be a sentence or even some words.
  • Present your work by publishing it or sharing it with your family, friend, or colleague by the end of the week. Ask them for some feedback!
  • Did you feel stressed, happy, excited while doing this? Reflect on your emotions
  • Redo this exercise in 3-4 weeks and compare the results.

Try to get as much enjoyment out of it as possible and make mistakes. There is no perfect article, and there will never be one.
In mastering writing, you can reflect your technical perspective from different angles, improving your communication skill on several levels.

Share your story

Do you have some tips on motivating yourself for writing, or what difficulties do you occur on your journey? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Discussion (1)

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nicoray86 profile image
NicoRay86 • Edited

Although I don't often feel the urge to write a blog post, sometimes I have to do this. But my writing skills are not very strong, so I cannot say that it brings me pleasure or joy. I only do this when absolutely necessary. Examples and free works help me with this. You can get redirected here if this question is relevant to you, and you have some issue with writing.