There is some commonality between writing code and ordinary writing. Here’s some of the common ground.
I’ve spend many years writing code to build websites. That created the opportunity for me to write my first book on the topic. It was during the process of writing the book that I made the realisation.
There’s discipline needed to write good code. And that same discipline works for writing good copy – or other types of writing.
Let me explain why.
The popular blog engine WordPress uses the tagline: "Code is poetry". The implication being, that there is some parity between coding and writing. I agree. Being involved in both to earn a living has confirmed that.
The first element is structure. Good copy is all about the underlying structure. That's the same as code. There's code and there's structured code.
The second element is purpose. Good copy makes it's purpose clear. It should well defined. Good code should have a clear purpose too. Even if it's only part of something much bigger.
The third element is clarity. Copy should be clear and succinct. With code, it's wise to re-work until the code is as clean and succinct as it can be.
Then we arrive at creativity. Coding algorithms may not sound particularly creative. But solving problems is solving a problem either way. Writing good copy and good code enjoy similar problem solving skills.
There is the question: does anyone "read" code? In truth, yes they do. Developers read it all the time. And they have drafts and second drafts too (generally called versions, though). In other words, code can gets improved on re-drafts just like copy can be.
After you’ve been developing websites for a while, you learn to analyse requirements. That’s a useful skill for writing too. Figuring out your angle and then writing to it as concisely as possible.
My assertion here then, is that while I'm still honing my copywriting skills, I have a good foundation. That's because there are two things in particular that coders can bring:
- Being able to explain complex things in simple language
- Solving often complex problems in a way that will work with other parts of the same system
Writing web code and writing words have similar disciplinary needs. So, if you happen to do both, what you learn from one skill transfers to the other and back again.