Many software engineers step back when the time comes for writing documentation or a report. Although most communication in life happens in writing via WhatsApp, Telegram, etc., we avoid writing structured text. Amid the quick conversations in chat apps or social media, our writing becomes more shallow, along with our thoughts.
The work, especially software engineering and management, requires deep thinking. The processes of software development need to be created thoughtfully. There are many unknowns in the project development. The dynamic environment prevents us from taking action without considering many options. Even before starting coding, we work with diagrams of some sort to bring our ideas into reality and challenge them. Diagrams work for some instances but not all. Thoughtful and structured writing comes into play and fills this gap.
Writing shapes thoughts. It helps to think deeply, understand the fundamentals and generate new ideas. Writing shows us the flaws in our thinking and allows us to eliminate them. When the thoughts are only on the mind, they don't stick that long. That's why we forget the great ideas that come at night. The ideas abandon us quickly.
When we write things down, they become permanent. Even though we still forget them, they have a higher chance of survival. Remembering something doesn't mean memorizing. We remember things by going back and taking a look. Our memory works like a network of thoughts. An idea can only stick with us if we make connections to it. The more we visit the node, the stronger these connections become and the less we forget. Improving this network by adding new nodes (notes) helps us improve ourselves and develop new thought processes.
The written thoughts teach us what we think and what we didn't think before. It moves us from consumer to creator. When we try to create, we notice unthought ideas and missed points. We discover them by writing them in complete sentences, not in short Slack messages.
In short-term messages, we exchange ideas and open more discussions around the topics that interest us. While we create conversations via casual messages, we stop endless discussions by writing in structure. When people provide input on them, we develop communities and move forward together.
Short-term messages have their use, and they are crucial for our lives. But, thoughtful and structured writing is full of surprises. It opens many doors that we aren't aware of now. Software development demands thinking outside of the box, and writing is one of the best ways to do it. The power of writing lies in using it as a tool instead of thinking of it as a burden.