How Programming Affects Writing

Posted November 21, 2011

I’ve been writing more seriously for the last few months. For the first time in years, I want to not just write, but improve my writing. My work is markedly better now than the first post, longer and more structured.

Looking back, I’m noticing patterns in the way I write sentences. Something about the structure and style screams programmer. Thinking about it, a programmer spends all of their time reading and writing, not just in terms that a machine can understand, but that other programmers understand.

Object oriented programming ends up being a stream of statements where the subject is first. My old posts tend to follow that structure. I define the thing I’m talking about, then make a series of statements about that thing, describing actions it takes and attributes it possesses. A lot of of “It’s”, “I”, and “The” at the start of sentences.

I wonder if functional programmers would be affected by their style. In those languages you tend to build progressively more complex statements from earlier definitions and concepts. Maybe lots of run-on sentences… joking of course.

The actions are more important then the one performing them. Maybe they have the opposing problem and barely ever put the subject first. I can’t say, since I don’t code in that style often.

Programmers also avoid frills. My writing is definitely lacking in variety and decoration. Learning colorful adjectives wasn’t an activity I engaged in, but now it seems like the next step towards improvement. Life is vibrant, so language should be as well.

Bare in mind this is all opinion and speculation based on my own experience. There’s likely some influence on normal writing as someone who writes code. If any other coders notice a similar style with their own writing I’d be interested to hear about it.