Book - On Writing Well

Tags: books

But is it done, done?”

I hate that phrase. I prefer nails on a chalkboard to that phrase. Two reasons: it sounds so dumb and condescending, and it’s so important to the software development life-cycle.

Developer: “OK, I’ve checked in the new payment processing code. It’s done.”

Project Manager: “So it’s done, done? Everything works, and it’s tested? Payments, refunds, all of it?”

Developer: ”…”

Project Manager: “How about you double check your test cases before we mark this as complete.”

Developer: “Probably a good idea.”

Writing feels a lot like software development. It’s a solo process, just an author and his tools. A piece may look done, but it isn’t really finished until the author rewrites it once, twice, or more, just as developers send code through unit testing, alpha testing and beta testing.

Another similarity: “Few people realize how badly they write.”

William Zinsser wrote that line in On Writing Well, but it could have easily found its way into any number of our classic software development books.

His book marches through many facets of the craft: principles, methods, forms, and attitudes. I collected a windfall of practical advice without minutia burying my desire to write. It’s the Pragmatic Programmer for writing.