Writing is something I see a lot of developers struggle with. They can write complex algorithms, but when it comes to communicating with another person, they struggle. I was a terrible writer. I’m still not great, but I’ve learned enough over the years to get by. I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned over the years.
Avoid Filler Words
The article that sparked me writing this post started sentences with “so”. This bothered me because this was something I did in the past and have seen otherwise smart people do. It doesn’t add any value to your sentence and can weaken the meaning. I believe this stems from a lack of confidence, and this can be picked up in your writing. The article was otherwise informative and useful, but lacked authority in the delivery.
So I was using this tool the other day and I wanted to talk about it.
This also goes for other filler words. You’re not trying to write a paper that has to meet a page requirement. Adding these filler words can weaken your writing and how it’s received. Avoid words like “really”, “just”, and “very”.
Use an Active Voice
Passive voice in writing is when the subject of your sentence is acted upon by something else. To make your writing more engaging, instead have the subject be doing the action.
How do you spot passive voice? Look for words like “is” and “be” before a verb. That may tell you if the sentence is using passive voice. This can be tough to determine, so don’t be afraid to use a writing tool to help you out.
A couple notes on passive voice, it isn’t always correct, and in technical focused writing can be hard to accomplish at times. But by making an effort to make your writing more active, it will make it more direct and engaging.
Use Tools To Help Your Writing
I’m not a great writer. While I know these rules I’ve listed, it can be hard to spot them in my own writing. When I’m focused on getting content down, I’m not paying attention to these rules. That’s why I rely on tools to help me out.
I use alex to catch any potentially insensitive writing. It doesn’t change the meaning of my writing and makes it more inclusive.
You’ve probably heard of Grammarly, but it’s become something I use frequently. I like the ability to set goals and audience in a document so I can make sure I’m coming across how I want to be. For everyday writing, the combination of write good and alex works, but when I want to sound professional, I reach for Grammarly. At time it feels slightly overpriced, but has been useful to me. If you’re looking for free options, stick with the tools listed above.
Note: This is not a paid advertisement or an affiliate link. These are my honest feelings on the product.
Even if you’re not an English major or struggled with English in school, these tips and tools should help you start writing better. At the very least, please stop using “so” to start sentences.
Comments? I'm @mloberg on Twitter.