Engineers Need to Read, Write, and Reflect

hacker news: engineers need to write

I agree with the point that technical writing can be a valuable skill for any kind of writer, especially those who deal with complex or abstract ideas. Technical writing teaches you how to communicate clearly, concisely, and accurately, without relying on jargon or ambiguity. It also helps you to organize your thoughts and structure your arguments in a logical and coherent way.

A good example of a writer who benefited from his technical writing background is Robert Pirsig, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig was a college writing instructor and freelance technical writer before he published his philosophical novel, which became a cult classic and sold millions of copies.

In his book, Pirsig explores the concept of quality, which he defines as a dynamic and subjective experience that transcends rational analysis. He uses the metaphor of motorcycle maintenance to illustrate his ideas, and contrasts two different approaches to life: the classical, which is based on reason and logic, and the romantic, which is based on intuition and emotion.

Pirsig's technical writing skills are evident in his ability to explain complex philosophical concepts in simple and accessible language, without losing depth or nuance. He also uses examples, analogies, and anecdotes to make his points more engaging and relatable. He balances his abstract reasoning with concrete details and personal stories, creating a narrative that appeals to both the head and the heart.

Pirsig's book is not only a fascinating exploration of quality, but also a testament to the power of technical writing as a tool for creative expression.