Rob Zolkos avatar

Rob Zolkos

November 4, 2022

Prefer Writing

At the end of last year, I recorded 3 screencasts that I felt would be interesting to the Ruby on Rails community. I put them out into the world and the response was largely positive. But to me, it didn’t feel right. Recording a video to explain things does not come naturally to me. I prefer to write.

Whilst I don’t mind consuming screencasts, and I’ve learned a lot of Ruby on Rails techniques from fabulous screencasts like Railscasts, Destroy All Software, Go Rails and Drifting Ruby, and countless YouTubers, my preference is reading a long-form blog post or book.

I’ve always valued good writing. My favorite tv shows and movies have exceptional writing. I could read the scripts for those shows for days.

Is Writing Dying?

The audience for long-form writing may however be dwindling. Attention is slipping - either through lack of time as we get busier or simply because that kind of content is harder to consume on the small device that we use most often. It’s no wonder there are thriving services like Blinkist.

37signals values writing - their job ads and company policies speak to this directly:

…the bulk of our work is written, whether in long form posts or short chats. We value good writers.

Remote work - particularly during the pandemic - has made writing even more important. It makes asynchronous work possible and helps with spoken language barriers. But a lot of companies soon realized that zoom meetings may be more effective for them. One can’t help but wonder if that was a symptom of their employees’ poor writing skills.

Writing won’t go away completely. I can’t see a pull request being submitted with only a link to a TikTok explaining it. I could be wrong.

Writing for Software Developers

Writing is a skill a lot of software developers could practice more of. Writing detailed pull requests and bug reports, explaining complex scenarios to superiors, and responding to customers and teammates are all examples of where sloppy writing hurts effective communication. Good writing clarifies thinking and can help persuade.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser - was recommended to me and is an excellent read. It reminded me that writing is a craft that needs to be practiced. That every word needs to earn its place in a sentence.

My screencasting days are over. I may pick it up again one day but my focus now is to practice writing. By writing more.