The Most Impactful and Important Thing I’ve Done for My Career

TL;DR: Learn to write well.

Yup, 💯:

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.

via Pragmatic 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! You’re going to eventually have to sit down and just “bleed” it out:

Just get to it.

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.

If any of this resonates, then, you should join me in putting together a small community of like-minded folks:

Let’s do it together.

Remember, it always starts badly – that’s where you must start!

For all things, not just writing.

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.