Programming and Writing

On April 8, 2013

I've programmed for several years, and have written a decent number of articles on this blog.

When you practice two different crafts, you can't help relating them to each other. Though every craft differs from another in terms of implementation and execution, yet, if you look deeply, you'll see that the rules to excel at them are same.

Programming and Writing are two crafts that are similar in more than one ways. The qualities that make a good programmer, are the same ones that make a good writer. To understand this, first, we've to see what's common between them.

So, let's see what are these common elements and how programming and writing are related.

1)Revise your work
Good programming rarely comes right the first time. You've to optimize your program to work correctly, considering all issues and conditions in mind. For this, you've to revise the code multiple times.

Similarly, good writing rarely comes right the first time. You've to make changes to your writing, considering all your readers in mind. For this, you've to revise your writing multiple times.

2)Practice to get better
Your first program won't likely be the best one you've ever written. Only by practicing good programming concepts regularly, do you become good at programming.

Your first article won't be the best you've ever written. Only by writing regularly and finding your voice, do you become good at writing.

3)Think clearly
While programming, it takes clear thinking to make the right choices. You've to figure out what to use and what to discard. You've to organize your code in a way that's easily maintainable and works smoothly.

While writing, it takes clear thinking to make the right use of words and sentences. You've to choose the right words and discard the bad ones. You've to organize your writing in a way that's easily readable and follows the reader's flow of thought.

4)Keep it simple
Keeping you code simple doesn't come easily. You've to learn the art of programming in a simple way. When you write simple code, you make it easy for yourself and others to understand it.

Keeping your writing simple doesn't come easily. You've to learn to write in a simple way. When your writing is simple, you make it easy for yourself and others to understand it.

5)Remove needless information
Before shipping your product, it's good to check if it contains any unnecessary code. As you tend to try various things in your code, it's easy to accumulate junk code and log files, that you may have kept just for debugging purpose. Make sure to remove all such junk code before you show your product to the world.

Before publishing your article, remember to check it for any repetitions and junk words. It's easy to fall in the trap of over explaining something. Make sure to make your writing concise before you are ready to show your article to the world.

6)Do what works good, not what makes you look good
The key to good programming is to make sure that your programs execute well, not something that makes you seem witty or smart in front of your users, but something which solves their problems.

The key to good writing is to make sure that your writing gives value to your readers, not something that shows off your vocabulary or literary skills, but some information that they can actually use.

7)Read a lot
You've to read a lot of code and study them, to understand what's a good structure for developing projects. Only by seeing well-written code, do you gain the ability to write well-written code.

Similarly, you've to read a lot to understand what makes a good article. Only after having a taste of good writing, do you know whether your writing is good or not.

8)Convey what's important at start itself
Your users should be able to get an idea of what your product does by seeing the first few screens of your product. They shouldn't be kept wondering what's it all about.

Your readers should get an idea about what's your article is all about, after reading the first few paragraphs. They should know what they will get after reading the complete article

9)Maintain the right flow
Make sure your program flows smoothly from one point to another. Every function and class acts responsibly and handles the flow with care, without breaking anything.

When writing, make sure your thought flows smoothly from one paragraph to another. Every paragraph should advance your reader's thought towards the conclusion, without breaking it.

10)Keep it readable
Your code should be easy to understand. Try to make it as readable as you possibly can. Even other programmers should be able to grasp the purpose of variables, functions, and classes in your code, just by reading their names.

Your writing should be easy to read and understand. The readers shouldn't have to wonder what a particular sentence means, or what's the meaning of that particular word. Your words should communicate your thoughts effortlessly to the readers.

11)Break long sentences into two
If a line of code seems too long, break it into two or more lines. Don't bother about the extra lines. If you want your code to be easy to understand, it's important to keep your expressions small.

If your article contains long sentences, break them into two or more smaller ones. Don't make your readers think too much, by writing longer sentences.

12)Avoid loose sentences
Check that your programs don't have any loose code. Loose code is that bulky piece of code which contains too many variables and expressions, and wastes available resources. Optimize your code and make it lean.

Check that your writing doesn't have any loose sentences. Loose sentences have too many words or cliché phrases in them. Replace them with simple English words that most of us already know.

13)Keep related sentences together
If several lines of code are similar in nature, try to keep them together. If a code repeats often, turn them into functions. Keep related functions together in one class.

If many sentences are trying to say the same thing, keep them together instead of repeating them at different places. Keep related sentences together in a paragraph. Keep related paragraphs together in an article.

14)Put the readers first
When developing products, put the users first. Their priority comes before yours. You're building a product for them. Not for yourself. Your users should feel as if the product was made specially with their needs in mind.

When writing, put your readers first. Write something which will be useful for them. You write for your reader. Not for yourself. Your readers should feel as if the article was written specially for them.

15)Do it naturally
If you feel too restricted by rules, don't be afraid to break them, if breaking them will make things easier for you, and your users. To have fun with programming, it's important to do it naturally. Just for the fun of it. Without any pressure, without any limitations.

If you feel too restricted by rules of grammar or what other writers say, feel free to break those rules, if breaking them will make it easier for your readers to understand your writing. To have fun while writing, it's important to do it naturally. Just for the fun of it. Without any pressure, without any limitations.

16)Don't overdo
It's easy to write too much code to do a simple task, just to make sure that you satisfy every tiny little wish that some one across the world could have. Don't overdo it. Just keep things manageable and try to program for your intended users only. You'll never be able to satisfy every one in this planet.

It's easy to write too much explanation for a simple idea, just to make sure that you make yourself absolutely clear to your readers. Don't overwrite it. Just keep what's necessary to explain your point and try to write for your targeted readers only. You'll never be able to satisfy every one in this planet.

To conclude, I find writing to be as creative as programming. What makes a good program also makes a good written article. If you are a programmer having a blog, perhaps, you will agree with me.

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