On Writing

15 Sep 2014

Writing … a skill that is vastly underappreciated.

Good writing is rare these days, especially in the modern business arena where throw away communication - email and, increasingly, instant messaging - tends to dominate.  A well constructed, and well edited, document is a pleasant breath of fresh air among the usual collection of odors that masquerade as typical business communication.  So, it seems appropriate that my first real blog post should be on the subject of writing.  It is afterall one of the main reasons that I decided to finally start a blog, long after blogs have become old hat, to be replaced with the modern world of ocial media, throw away “posts” and 140 character tweets.

Now, my views are, inevitably, colored by the arena of my experience, that of software development in the service of financial services.  Perhaps other fields - the law or journalism - are still bastions of well constructed rhetoric, I don’t know.  However, in the world of software, good code is seen far more often than good prose.

I have always valued communication skills alongside technical skills and I’d like to think that I have a good collection of both.  My career to date has certainly been defined by the blend of communication and technology, and often by the task of communicating “about” technology, whether that is as part of the sales or client support function, internal project management, or training and documentation.  The moniker “Communication Skills” is ascribed to a category of competences including oral presentation, coaching, selling, consulting, writing and more.  We all get opportunities to exercise our verbal skills every day, and I can wax extemporaneous with the best of them, but how often do we go out of our way to exercise our skill in writing?

I am starting this blog for various reasons:  to create more of a public face for myself (if I’m honest) but also to give me a reason to write.  I want to take the time to craft articles about topics that interest me and publish them for posterity.  Perhaps some people will get some value out of the things I write, I sincerely hope so, but it doesn’t really matter if they do or they don’t.  I’m doing this so that I can exercise some discipline in order to research and craft a collection of articles, each of which will represent a whole lot more effort than a Facebook post or a tweet. Now this is not to say that I don’t see Facebook and Twitter as valuable communication channels, I do.  I use Facebook all the time (perhaps too much actually) but it’s a very different medium, all (for me at least) about staying in contact with friends (old and new, near and far).  I’m a big fan of throw away posts and sharing random witticisms and aphorisms but that’s not writing.  This blog will be my writing.

At least I’m going to limit myself to the “typed” word as opposed to the written word; I’m not that much of a masochist. I wrote way too many essays by hand back in school (far too many years ago) and I don’t think my hand would last for more than a page these days before it would collapse into a withered claw of cramp.  No diary for me, just some online articles about software development, mathematics, guitars, culture and other miscellaneous crap.

Of course this could all be hubris and bravado and I might end up writing a bunch of cheesy fanboy pieces on nostalgic topics from my youth.

So you have been warned.  Abandon all hope ye who continue beyond this post …