I’ve recently decided that I’m going to write more. As school is becoming more and more of a distant memory, and my professional interactions become more contextual and face-to-face, I find that I need to express complete, complex ideas in writing less and less.
The instantaneous nature of instant messengers and to a lesser extent email, leads to a style of discussion where ideas emerge out of noise instead of first-principles. One person says something wild; someone else disagrees; the first person defends their wild thing; and an idea get refined until everyone is happy, or everyone is exhausted from all the back-and-forth.
This can be exhilarating and has lead me to good and interesting ideas. Good things can come out of lively disagreements. But more insidiously, it’s all too easy to get into a habit of throwing an 80% fleshed out idea, and hoping the other 20% emerges from the chaos.
Writing on the other hand, forces you to disagree with yourself. To get your ideas to 100%. To find and confront all of the inconsistencies in your argument yourself. There’s less ego, as you’re less likely to disagree with one of your own points on personal grounds. You can, for the most part, look at the page and draw the logical lines between every point you’re making. Like those chains of proofs from school, you can be sure that even if what you wrote doesn’t all fit in your head, you can start reading at the first sentence and arrive at the final point through a series of logical steps.
You can re-order your thoughts, in a way you can’t do in conversation. At the time of writing this sentence, for example, I had already deleted two paragraphs above this one because they didn’t make sense!
What’s troubling is that I’ve found that my writing skills have atrophied. As the need to express fully formed ideas becomes less and less, and the need to thrive in the chaos of ideas found in most software engineering shops increases, I find that my ability to clearly write down complex ideas has gotten less and less.
The point I’m trying to make is that anecdotally writing forces me to think in a way that conversation doesn’t. And that’s why I’m determined to write more.
I’m not sure what I’ll write about.
In the past, everything on this blog has been about my various programming projects. I don’t have quite as much time as I used to, and I can’t dive deeply into a technical subject and then write about it fast enough to keep pace with how much writing I want to do. At the same time, this is my first post since 2014! So I’ve got a solid backlog of half-finished projects to work through. So we’ll see.