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Document Your Learning

saintaze profile image Ayaz ・4 min read

Documenting your journey can stand you out as a developer and it comes with a host of benefits both personal and professional.

A Case For Writing

Writing helps you sharpen your perception and strengthen your observation. When you are writing about what you have learned it forces you to organize your disparate thoughts into a cohesive whole which helps to clarify your own concepts.

It makes you a better thinker, a better analyst and gives you a more robust thought process system. Writing also strengthens your focus and jogs your memory. It promotes new connections among disconnected ideas and makes a web of knowledge bigger and richer.

Your writing also acts as powerful notes that you can refer back to when you want to refresh a concept and since it's written by you it is easy to understand and instantly accessible.

Writing not only helps you in cementing your knowledge but also elevates you professionally.

If you are looking to get hired, then having a portfolio of blogs (among other things) to show can give you some extra edge over other job seekers. And if you already have a job then writing can be a great tool to quickly establish you as an authority in your domain.

A Royal Road to Creativity

One very important aspect of writing is that it fosters creativity which helps your mind to fill in the gaps for missing knowledge. You learn to think out of the box, you start to ask questions, you ponder and come up with your own explanations (right or wrong).

A developer really is creator first, coder second and coding at its heart really is ingenuity wrapped in a cloak of technicality. It is a creative process that externally appears logical. So to be a better coder it makes sense to pay attention to creative development in addition to technical development.

Unfortunately, most developers never get to learn the benefit of being a creative person. They get bogged down into the rigid and restrictive mindset of what is right, what is wrong, what is fast and what is slow completely ignoring the creative side which has no boundaries, no rules and that is where great ideas and solutions are born.

So how can you activate creativity? The easiest, cheapest and most accessible way is writing. Working on the creative side helps to excel on the technical side as well.

By synching your creative (writing) and logical side (coding) you bring about a harmonious synergy in mind and create a system where one side can lean on to the other for solutions if it can't find one on its own. And having such a mental system in place makes you a better-rounded person/coder.

Get Into The Habit Of Writing

Take writing as a vital supplement to your learning. Every day, try to spend 10 minutes writing about what you have learned that day. You can begin by writing a small single paragraph about a new concept.

It doesn't have to be a fancy piece, it doesn't even have to be entirely correct. The key is not to worry too much about what you write but that you do write.

As a beginner, you may fall into the trap of comparing yourself with others in terms of quality, length, technicality, and originality. But initially, you should rather focus more on developing and refining your art.

No matter how shallow or incompetent it may sound, don't be put off by that. The goal is to cultivate the habit of writing and the quality will follow on its own. And once you become more confident, you can open up to sharing it with others.

By putting it out there you get viewpoints you haven't had the luck to explore before, it may solve an issue, refine a thought, help you see your weakness, reorient your learning and improve your understanding.

It also lends you community support and you no longer feel like operating in an isolated shell, a vital element to boost your morale.

What I Want To Write Already Exists!

You can write whatever floats your boat. But you may think oh geez there are already a dozen articles, tutorials, blogs on the same topic. Yes, there might very well be but they are not from you.

If you want to be a soap or shampoo manufacturer you wouldn't start by thinking oh my there are already a lot of soaps and shampoos on the market. Yes, there are and even though all of them pretty much do the same thing, wash your hair and body, they are not from you, they are not your product.

Similarly, when you write, don't worry about how many instances (see what I did there?) of the same topic exist, go at it anyways, marinate it nicely and spice it up with your own flavor.

You write your version of it. Just like there are many sides to the same story, there can be many authors for the same topic.

Write To Improve Not To Score Points

Remember to write for your sake first and then for others. And if in the process you build a following and people start to like you and engage with you then that is an honor and a privilege. You can be proud of that.

But if that doesn't occur it must not discourage you, because you are primarily writing to help yourself.

You are doing it because it helps you reinforce your concepts and serves as a guidepost to where you stand right now and where you ought to go.

You must not worry too much about getting likes and comments as writing is a skill and just like with any other skill it takes time to get good at it and like any other skill, it needs practice and dedication. Stick to it and you will see your efforts bloom.

Conclusion

Remember to not take writing as a chore but to have fun while doing it. Be excited when you are about to write, you don't know what your mind is going to reflect on a paper (can be electronic). Do not be dismayed by the results but be thrilled by the effort.

In due time you may become an ace writer with an audience, an independent voice, and a unique style. And then you would have yet another solid skill to flaunt apart from coding.

Be an innovator at heart and use coding to paint your art.

Discussion (8)

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ghost profile image
Ghost

I've also noticed that it helps to let go those recurrent thoughts or ideas, those that keep popping out, those ideas clutter; when you write them the "pressure" leaves. The clearest example is that thought that doesn't let you sleep, just write it and it's gone. Is like the brain can't let go unfinished business, maybe is fear to forget or lose the thread, when you write it up, it can let go.

Is also useful to write for your future self, not everything related to code should go to comments, I find useful to keep a journal of discarded ideas, options I considered but for some reason didn't worked or weren't the right choice, it keeps me from waste time retaking the same decision. Sometimes is not obvious the reason some idea was discarded.

Personally I prefer: ink, paper and my trusty fountain pen; even dip pens if I feel artsy. I'm old school like that. And the process or handwriting is more involved and I think it helps the learning process, taking extra care of the calligraphy, disposition of the diagrams and the overall design of the page is also helpful.

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saintaze profile image
Ayaz Author

Writing is a great brain dump exercise. The best thing is when you write down nagging thoughts, the mind gets cleared, you get great ideas, and your creativity is let loose.

Jotting down thoughts for future reference definitely helps, that is what I meant by 'writing acting as notes'. It applies not only to coding but also to life in general. I wanted to make the article more general in scope but I stuck to dev theme.

I am also old school and love pen and paper writing. It's completely distraction-free. It is also very soothing and calming almost therapeutic. But its real benefits come when you free your surroundings from all electronics.

If you are writing on paper and intermittently checking your phone, tablet or glancing up at a TV screen, it defeats the whole purpose. You should rather be detached from all devices in every way and be completely immersed in your writing. It should be just you, your thoughts and paper to write on, and that can work wonders for you.

I have written a similar article on Medium with slightly a different and more general tone.

medium.com/@ayezahmed101/how-refle...

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ghost profile image
Ghost

It also not small thing the physical feedback, the smell of the paper and the ink; the feel of the nib in the paper; the sound, man! I love the sound and don't let me start talking about ink colors, brands and textures; nib types and kinds of papers and how all play together. It's a whole can of worms, a whole hobbit on itself.

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saintaze profile image
Ayaz Author

It definitely is a great experience being more natural and real and it gives great pleasure.

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francnstein profile image
francnstein

Create post! , I agree 100 % ! Thank you.

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himynameisoleg profile image
Oleg

Great point about β€œit already exists”
That was also my false reasoning early on unfortunately.

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saintaze profile image
Ayaz Author

Yes, unfortunately, we all fall for that from to time. But once we get past that initial hump we do start to get unique ideas and topics we want to write on as the brain goes into the explorative mode.

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sreadyila profile image