Writing: The Most Important Thing I’ve Done for My Career

TL;DR: Learn to write well.

I agree with this, via the Pragmatic Engineer, 💯:

It is with a larger organisation that writing becomes important for messages to reach a wider group of people. For software engineers, writing becomes the tool to reach, converse with and influence engineers and teams outside their immediate peers. Writing becomes essential to make thoughts, tradeoffs and decisions durable. Writing things down makes these thoughts available for a wide range of people to read. Things that should be made durable can include proposals and decisions, coding guidelines, best practices, learnings, runbooks, debugging guides, postmortems. Even code reviews.

For people to read what you write, it needs to be written well. If you grab people’s attention early on, they will keep reading and they will receive the message you intended to get across. More of them will respond to it and do it without few misunderstandings on what you meant. By writing well, you can scale your ability to communicate efficiently to multiple teams, to an organisation or across the company. And the ability to communicate and influence beyond your immediate team is the essential skill for engineers growing in seniority – from senior engineer to what organizations might call lead, principle, staff or distinguished engineer.

So, how exactly does one get better? That’s easy:

So how can you work on becoming better at writing? Writing clearly, concisely and in a way that is easy to read? As with every skill, it’s a matter of being aware of the fundamentals, practicing, getting feedback and repeating.

Although, his first recommendation is to read a book (or two) and I couldn’t disagree more with that – I think you should just get started, practice now, because it’s inevitable!

From the (graphic) mind of Ernest Hemingway, everyone, eventually, will have to sit down and just “bleed” it out:

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

I have more thoughts on how to become a writer here, but, what Hemingway says is absolutely true.

Writing has been one of the most important and impactful things that I have ever done professionally – it has opened most of the doors that I’ve been able to walk through giving me too many options to consider (hey… I love optionality!).

It’s gotten me work of all types and has had me travel all over the world. It’s helped me build software to pitch decks to marketing copy to internal documentation to… anything and everything.

This is why I take my writing discipline seriously. This is why I continue to get up every morning and commit some of the most important working hours to it.

It’s why I plan on doing for as long as I am able – perhaps all the way until I leave this place for good? Now wouldn’t that be fascinating! Imagine reading my final thoughts and feelings the day before (or day of…!) my death? Is that too morbid or odd or weird or spooky? Creepy? Hmm.

Remember, it always starts badly – that’s where you must start! Don't worry if you don't think you're a "good" (or "great") writer at the present moment — this is by design.

What will make the journey worth it is doing it together. Promise. Your commitment and execution is one thing, building a support network around you is just as important.

So, stay close to our Blogging Group here on Indie Hackers and let's continue to write often and write well!

  1. 4

    Couldn't agree more! I've been writing on the web for over 20 years now, starting in 1996 :-) I've had blogs, newsletters, I am learning every day but I have to say writing in public has brought me so much. New friends, new business-partners, possibilities to collaborate, book-deals. It all starts with writing in public. Just do it. Blog on!

  2. 2

    You know, it's important not only to write well, but also to write about complex informative topics, such as engineering, in accessible words. I took away a few important points from your article, thanks for that. I can also advise you on this site https://gradesfixer.com/essay-types/informative-essays/ at one time, it helped me a lot. And after reading your post, I immediately remembered about it. Of course, you have more examples, but for self-education, you can familiarize yourself.

    1. 1

      :) thanks friend!

  3. 2

    Writing a newsletter every day must be brutal John. Do you have a day off?

    1. 2


      but, it's not that i don't have bad days or off days... i do. fuck, i do...

      ... but, i know that this is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of the business-building / community-building process... at this stage in my company.

      ... so, with that focus in mind, i have no problems doing it... and i'm just so grateful that i love what i do!

      1. 2

        Fair enough. There's great power in fully committing to something like you describe

        1. 1

          where are you doing this in your own life?

  4. 2

    Awesome, just started my journey! I've gotten really interested in the idea of sharing for the sake of accountability and growth.

    I started writing on cowriters.app a few days ago and just published my first blog post!: https://austinmoninger.com/flow-is-seductive/

    1. 1

      i'm so glad you're doing it!

  5. 2

    YES! Writing consistently is key.

    I've been writing on my blog for the past 7 years, journaling every time I feel my brain is full or whenever I just feel like I need to write something down for my future self, and writing documentation both personally and for work.

    I couldn't agree more about how impactful writing has been in my life and for my own mental well-being.

    1. 1

      i literally can't help myself... and if i don't write every day, then, i go crazy.

  6. 2

    You are the reason I started and I will always be grateful. Writing often = yes, everyday. Writing well = I am still but an infant.

    1. 1

      thanks friend! appreciate you. :)

  7. 2

    Love this! I've definitely become aware of the importance of writing recently.

  8. 0

    Thanks for this valuable information! I myself have been writing on various topics for about six years and it was really interesting for me to read your article, I will say more, I even picked up some interesting truths from it. In the age of the Internet, everyone writes. If a couple of centuries ago, only a select few owned writing skills, now the overwhelming majority of people own them at a more or less decent level. I would also like to add that first of all it is worth remembering: the most important thing in any text and audio message is simplicity. It doesn't matter how intellectually savvy you are, it is only important that people understand you. True mastery is possessing extensive knowledge and expressing this knowledge through simple, understandable things. By the way, I advise you to post your article on Facebook, where tens of thousands of interested users associated with writing can see and evaluate it. I saw a couple of hundred similar posts there and noticed that on average, posts on this topic have almost 15 thousand likes! I am sure their authors use services similar to https://viplikes.net/ to quickly wind up their number.

    1. 1

      this feels spammy...

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