I've been here for a while now. I love the community, the people are amazing and I learned so much while reading the amazing articles the authors on here have to offer.
I also write articles every other week (shocking news, I know) and today I want to get a bit more meta about it. I want to tell you how writing articles has actually made me a better developer. Let's jump right in.
If you want your articles to be read by people, there's two things you more or less have to deliver: Usefulness and entertainment. I once read somewhere that a good tech talk is 60-80% entertainment and the rest is useful info about the topic. Although this is an opinion of someone, I think it has a very true core, also for the text medium. I love articles that are fun to read. I mean, who doesn't, really? If I want some info, I could read docs of topics, but when I browse articles on dev.to, the topic is the thing that grabs my attention, but I also stay for the fun.
Writing useful and entertaining articles on a regular basis means I have to get creative. Listicles write themselves, basically - and I'm also guilty of producing them every so often, I admit that - the next React to-do list tutorial is going to be read by people who want to get into the tech, yeah, but what's the fun in writing about that? I could write about the same exact topic for weeks on end (think: "React To Do list, but this time I'm only using my left hand!"), but people don't stick around for that, usually.
I think of myself as a fairly creative person. Writing and actually coming up with stuff to write about, though, greatly increased my creativity. And creativity is especially useful for a developer.
Developers need to be creative in order to find the solutions that work best. They need to be creative in order to support the people they work with, be it business, design, or a client. They need to be creative in order to strive. Understanding and applying logic is one thing, but creativity is a large part of the job.
I've written a few articles on things I only knew a little bit about when writing. I even made it a thing once to document every step of learning a new tool called Snowpack or showing you what I've learned while messing around on Project Euler. Learning is an essential part of the job. If you're not switching jobs constantly or keep yourself busy with a ton of small side projects, chances are you're more or less focussing on a single tech stack that your company uses and get really proficient in that, while the outside world is constantly changing. New tools and techniques emerge and vanish again in the neverending cycle that software development really is.
And that can be an issue. Spoiler: Anyone's favorite framework or language are not going to stick around for the rest of their entire career. Unless you're doing Kobol or SAP, of course, those will stick with us for the next few centuries, probably.
Learning new things helps in different ways: You might find a new interesting tech stack to diversify your portfolio, you might find tools that could be useful some day (just had that exact case last Friday, actually!) or you might just learn a new paradigm that broadens your horizon in general.
Seriously, when I started writing articles, I thought this would be a one-person-show for most of the time, trying to find inspiration myself, delivering to the masses where I barely know a face, let alone the names of people. Turns out I was as wrong as I could be! The people you get to know, either by joining a Discord server or two, reading other people's articles or by discussing with them in the comment section is amazing.
I just had an amazing call on Friday with someone I got to know through writing articles and reading theirs. We had a great exchange and figured we could help each other learn and reach our goals faster! This wouldn't have happend if I wasn't writing articles. This is, yet again, another learning opportunity for both of us. Which brings me to the next point:
An old saying goes: "You truly understood something if you can explain it to others so they understand it as well."
And that's true! By trying to teach things in the tutorials I write and by explaining why I coded some things the way I coded them, I learn to question my own decisions and reflexes. There's go-to patterns everywhere, but maybe those are not the ideal patterns to begin with. Perhaps they're hard to understand and unnecessarily complicated. By trying to explain them, I question them. If they're too complex, I try to simplify or find a different way to solve a problem entirely.
It also helps me coach juniors or people in the bootcamps I sometimes attend as a coach. It helps me to explain technical decisions to non-technical people, making me at least look more senior.
We all have our comfort zones. Some are smaller, some are larger, but we all know things we would rather not do. Be it because we think we're bad at it, or because we're actually bad at it, or because we're afraid people will judge us, you name it. Comfort zones exist and that's a good thing. They let us excell at what we're good at and let us avoid things we might break.
But getting out of the comfort zone every now and then is necessary in order to evolve. Writing, and also for some people the interaction with the community, forces one out of their comfort zone on a regular basis. Some people will hate your posts, others will love them, that's just how it works. You cant satisfy everybody at once.
Writing articles puts you on a stage. You might feel uncomfortable being on that stage (the comfort zone I was talking about), but after some articles you will want to be on that stage. The positive feedback you get will be amazing. And it helped me to get out of my comfort zone in other areas as well.
I told you about all the personal benefits I got of writing articles on dev.to. Perhaps you agree, perhaps you don't, perhaps it has inspired you to write articles yourself now! I'm certainly inspired now. And off I go to the next article draft!
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it! If so, leave a ❤️ or a 🦄! I write tech articles in my free time and like to drink coffee every once in a while.