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Start Writing With 4 Simple Steps (for Junior Developers)

Writing git commits, code comments or elaborating needed stack to DevOps colleagues requires one skill – writing concise, but effective texts that get to the point fast.

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And this is what junior developers quickly realize when they land on their first Trello card – writing often and writing a lot is a symbiotic task for any developer. The faster you embrace this philosophy, the faster your overall dev skills will flourish.

We can all agree that “practice makes perfect” and that you will probably refine your writing skills along with your pure programming skills. Let’s shortcut this – writing blog posts is the quickest and most effective way to sharpen your writing mind. It also opens the door to other professional skills like mentoring, system thinking (hello database architecture!), leading teams or even public speaking if that is your thingy. 

Here’s how to kick off:

1. Start with a topic that is close to your heart! Yes, throw away all of the rubbish topics that your HR has recommended for you to write about and stick to the ones that get your goosebumps flying up. World is filled with poorly written unimaginative PR fluffs or “we-discovered-remote-work” guides and you should not be a part of that. This is a fairly simple suggestion so let’s get deeper with a next argument.

Netokracija organized a conference where we mostly talked about developers and their writing efforts. Content writing part starts around 1h and 15 min.

2. Don’t overthink your hearty topic and don’t think that someone is not interested in really precise and extreme niche development themes – number of PHP workers or the processing NGINX power and their effect on the ACF WordPress plugin is not a topic that will interest your HR team, but it will surely find it’s way to other fellow developers. In short, every product has a market and this especially applies for writing. Always keep in mind to write in the medium that suits you and your content best – stackoverflow comments, Quora answers, internal blogging platform or even submitting your column to a media outlet such as Netokracija are all possibilities when publishing material. Remember; writing your first post is more about building YOUR skills than winning a Pulitzer.

3. There’s an old joke among writers (incorrectly attributed to Hemingway) that you should type drunk and edit sober. This basically means that you should open your fav text editor and just start throwing words, even sentences :), into your canvas, never minding the grammar, style, content, meaning…anything. Just start to write ANYTHING on your chosen hearty topic. I promise you that structure will follow, but more importantly, so will the need to start editing your written content. And this leads us to the final argument.

4. Follow these simple rules when editing and structuring your content.

  • Title should inform the user what the content is about
  • Subtitle should explain what is the overall context
  • First paragraph should present your main argument
  • Second and consecutive paragraphs should present your other arguments that support the main argument
  • Conclusion paragraph is the opportunity to tell your readers what you just elaborated
  • Remove all unnecessary words from all of the above paragraphs. Einstein famously spoke about this concept – everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler than that.
King Harari Bryson DanielPink books software development
Writing and editing is a skill that can be honed to perfection. Tons of writers share their wisdom or resources to get you up to speed.

Force yourself to write for the web medium, including embeds, links, graphs and charts. Google docs / sheets are easily embeddable in your blog posts, while Airtable and Whimsical give you an opportunity to insert detailed interactive tables or charts to visually support your thoughts.

In the end, writing is all about clearing your mind and letting the steam flow from your chest to speedy fingers. This zone within yourself will have a deep impact on your symbiotic coding, but also on your overall soft skills. You will quickly realize that sending an “explainer” email to your boss about bad DevOps practices will only take half-an-hour (which previously took you months of only thinking about it).  And do check Neuralab’s open development positions. We promise that you will have a chance to write your heart out.

Photo Credits: Jukan Tateisi, Unsplash

Krešimir Končić
Krešimir Končić Owner at Neuralab

Ex QBASIC developer that ventured into a web world in 2007. Leading a team of like-minded Open Source aficionados that love design, code and a pinch of BBQ. Currently writing a book that explains why ‘coding is the easier part’ of our field.

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