Writin’ Skilz R Important


If I had one piece of advice for a Computer Science student I think it would be nothing to do with programming. Or even computers. It would simply be “Learn to write well”. This doesn’t mean I necessarily want to see short stories, or poems (although send them through if you like), it just means that the art of putting words our there that make sense is something you should work at.

In my experience the only way to get good at writing is to write a lot. Then write some more. Blogs are great for this, as are diaries. And Final Year Projects. Just set yourself the task of knocking out a few words a day and putting them somewhere where others can find and comment on them. Try writing in other styles, from the dry “It can be shown that” kind of report style to anything else you like, including murder mystery if you fancy having a go. And get used to revising your text after you have read it. Just because there are no wavy red lines on the page doesn’t mean it actually makes sense. Watch for repeated phrases that repeat themselves repeatedly. Try to find alternatives to make the text sound better.  A good tip is to read out loud what you have just written. Anything that is not quite right will really sound  that way.

Another tip is to read stuff by people who can write well. The BBC news site is pretty good for this, along with newspaper sites like the Times and the Guardian.

I’m not saying that Computer Scientists are now doing an English degree. What I’m really saying is that if you can express yourself in written words, this will pay off big time when you go for jobs.