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Five reasons why I write

3 min read (663 words)


In 2022, I made a [goal](/stats/#goal) of writing at least twelve long-form articles on my blog each year. But why bother? In this article, I will explain the reasons why I write.

In 2022, I made a goal of writing at least twelve long-form articles on my blog each year. But why bother? In this article, I will explain the reasons why I write.

To get better at writing #

I write to improve my technical writing. Technical writing is a very useful skill as a software engineer; communicating complex concepts is an essential part of my day job. Writing articles regularly is a great way to practice my planning and writing skills.

I’ve gotten pretty good at the process of writing articles, but I’m not sure whether I’m actually getting better at writing. To get better at something, you need timely and relevant feedbackfootnote 1. I don’t have an editor to point out issues and readers don’t tend to comment on writing quality unless it is awful. It’s hard to improve at writing without feedback. The type of writing I do also isn’t especially ambitious; perhaps creative writing or poetry would provide better practice, although it’s not really what I want to be doing.

For the last ten years, I’ve been working on an online book to teach Minetest modding and game creation called the Minetest Modding Book. One day, I’d like to self-publish a physical book on this subject. This will be a huge undertaking - and you can’t remotely patch books once they are printed. Getting better at writing helps towards this goal and will make the end result better.

To document my projects #

I learnt to program because I wanted to create things. Websites, games, world-ending artificial intelligences, and apps. I’m the sort of person who has a lot of projects on the go at any one time.

Writing about my projects is a way of sharing them with the world. Whilst I do publish many of my projects as open source, some are less accessible. For example, you can’t use my electronics or 3D printing projects unless you have electronics skills and a 3D printer. It would also be quite time-consuming to replicate these projects.

Writing whilst my memory is fresh allows me to archive my thoughts about a project for the future, and share the lessons I learned. This is quite useful as something to refer back to.

To get feedback and learn #

Recently, I’ve been learning electronics. My eventual goal with electronics is to create autonomous robots and drones; I’d like to make a quadcopter with my own flight controller that can take off, land, and follow a target. This will be quite an ambitious project, and I’m nowhere near capable enough for that yet.

To get better at electronics, I’ve been working on easier projects to develop the skills I will need. Writing about these projects and the problems I’ve faced has allowed me to get suggestions from those experienced with electronics. This has been invaluable for my self-development.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Even if I have solved all the problems and finished an electronics project, I still benefit from suggestions for improvements and better ways of doing things.

To share knowledge and solutions #

There’s been a lot of cases where I’ve had to work out how to do something myself. By publishing tutorials, I can hopefully save the next searcher from struggling with the same problem.

Web comic.
The left is text that says:
Never have I felt so close to another soul, and yet so helplessly alone, as when I google an error, and there's one result. A thread by someone with the same problem and no answer. Last posted to in 2003.
The right half shows a stick figure shaking a monitor saying:
"Who were you DenverCoder9? WHAT DID YOU SEE?"
A relevant XKCD: "Wisdom of the Ancients"

To think and explore opinions #

Writing blog posts is a great way to develop opinions about subjects. As part of my writing process, I break down concepts, make notes, and figure out which points are the most important. By attempting to explain something clearly, you can often identify weaknesses in your arguments or knowledge. Writing articles allows me to brainstorm, weigh up my thoughts, and build/challenge opinions.

Conclusion #

I write to get better at writing, to document my projects, to get feedback, to share knowledge, and to develop opinions.

  1. The 4 things it takes to be an expert by Veritasium is a good explainer on how to get better at something. ↩︎

rubenwardy's profile picture, the letter R

Hi, I'm Andrew Ward. I'm a software developer, an open source contributor, and a graduate from the University of Bristol. I’m a core developer for Minetest, an open source voxel game engine.


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