Software Advent Calendar 2023 / 18 / Writing; Essay Template (Part B)
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
In the previous post, I shared with you a personal story of how I was introduced to essay writing (having failed miserably, at it, in the past). Today, I want to share with you a couple of thoughts on why writing is important for software engineers, executives and academics and point you on an essay writing guide, I have personally found very helpful.
From source code comments to executive reports…
… putting ideas on writing, is communication. It doesn’t really matter what type of professional you are, but, for the context of this post I will share some thoughts on how writing can help software engineers, executives and academics, three roles I have personally served throughout my professional life.
// TODO: Explain…
Software Engineers are used in writing source code. The programming language is irrelevant in the context of this post. What matters is that source code is a structured way of writing commands that help the computer do something. There’s order on how you structure your code, otherwise it will not compile / run.
Because software engineers need to put energy on code writing, sometimes it feels boring to spend the extra hour needed to comment or document our code. It is natural, it happens, and I will not dive on the benefits of software documentation (at least in that post).
By avoiding writing documentation, a software engineer is missing on an opportunity to practice writing. Is writing a useful skill for an engineer? One might ask. For sure. One of the biggest limitation I get when I talk with junior / mid and sometimes senior engineers in teams, is them to communicate (i.e. via e-mail) with an executive or a stakeholder of another team or company, especially if they are of higher rank. Or when they want to express an idea they have commenting on a shared document. Being articulate, is a power, in the professional environment.
Executives are usually experienced with writing. Depending on where they come from professionally, they might have different styles of writing (in terms of phrasing, focus on detail, presentation of the information) but, in general, they are competent writers.
For me, as an executive, my main problem was to summarize my findings since, as I said in the previous post I shared with you, I tend to overanalyze things on paper. When I summarize my thoughts, I always fear I am leaving out important things or useful context.
Starting with a hypothesis
Academics are essentially writers. They produce scientific text which, as programming, needs to follow specific norms and structure (although they are not compiled or executed by a machine, as source code does). Again, academics are competent writers of scientific text, and they are trained in forming arguments and supporting them with scientific findings.
The problem I have personally faced, as an academic, is that the academic style of writing is not effective to professionals that do not share any connections with the scientific word. To effectively communicate with such professionals, an academic, needs to be able to simplify the terms and connect them with the practical experiences of every day life.
I personally believe that being able to write good essays is the key in mastering writing. Essays are the basic literature tool that is being taught in schools. An essay had the simple structure of Introduction - Body - Conclusion which allows the writer to effectively discuss a single idea. Once we master this simple structure of essays we can written longer and more complex works like, manuscripts, chapters, monographs, even books.
Resources of the day
So now that we have seen why writing skills are helpful, in general, let me share with you an amazing resource on essay writing. It is an essay writing guide, created by Dr. Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist, academic and author.
You download it for free here.
You can also find useful information (or motivation) to improve your writing in this talk by Dr. Jordan Peterson
Finally, if you find the Essay Writing Guide difficult to navigate, there is this post from Big Think that analyzes the process proposed by Jordan Peterson.
That was it for this post! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! See you sooner or later 🖖.