Notes to self

Not gold alone brought us hither

Nov 3, 2012

On writing

I have started reading “On writing well” by William Zinsser and just from reading chapter 1, I can see what makes this book tick. It is a sequel to the seminal work on this subject – “Elements of style” by Strunk and White. I have enjoyed reading “Elements of style” so much that it left me with a longing for more on the topic; and “On writing well” satisfies that craving.

There is more to this book than just [literary] writing. Surprisingly, the insights gained from reading the first chapter go beyond the craft of writing – to software development, i.e. writing code. Following are a few assertions that the author makes which apply to writing code as well.

  1. Writing is not easy and fun. It is hard and lonely, and the words seldom just flow. (So is programming, but readme driven development can help.)
  2. Rewriting is the essence of writing. Professional writers rewrite their sentences over and over. (In other words, refactor your code all the time.)
  3. Writing is a craft, not an art. (Practice your craft as a programmer.)
  4. If your job is writing, you learn to do it every day. Like any other job. (Write code every day no matter your job title.)
  5. Professional writers are solitary drudges who seldom see other writers. (Many successful software developers too work alone – here’s an example.)

I am happy to be reading this book.