Why writing is a great way to learn

Personal development · 

There’s this quote, usually attributed to Frank Oppenheimer, that says that the best way to learn is to teach. I couldn’t agree more.

When you teach something to someone else, you need to make sure that you know what you’re talking about, that you have every single detail covered, and that you can anticipate every question that might arise. Nothing can be left to chance.

Speaking of my own personal experience, I sometimes found myself in a situation where I needed to give a talk about a topic that I thought I had mastered thoroughly, only to find out when preparing my slides and doing some more research that there were a lot of things that I didn't know yet. When writing my latest article about the technologies I use on this website, I learned a few interesting things about Jamstack, Gatsby, and Strapi, things that I didn’t know when I was actually building the website (and that would have been useful as a matter of fact).

I don’t know if it’s only me but unless I do have to explain something to someone else, I keep my knowledge of a topic to a surface knowledge: I understand the big picture but I don’t care too much about the details. Some people would feel uncomfortable knowing that they will never know everything about a topic, that they will never become an expert in a field, despite their continuous efforts to achieve it. On my side, I don’t care too much because I consider myself a generalist, and I actually see being an expert as a weakness, not a strength. I actually feel great knowing that I don’t know everything, that I will always learn new stuff even when I’ll be 90 years old (if I ever survive the next seven pandemics of course).

But everything that’s been said in the article so far is just one way of learning when writing. The other one is actually much more interesting, but only if you have an open mind and are humble enough to accept feedback, even if it’s not the most constructive one. If that’s the case, it’s when Cunningham’s law comes to play.

Cunningham's law states that the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question, it's to post the wrong answer. So it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your grammar or your facts straight when writing a piece of something. If you made a mistake, be assured that you’ll know about it, because there will always be this person making it their personal mission to tell you when you’re wrong. Even though the intentions of that kind of people are not necessarily benevolent, it’s still a great way to learn, and to open up to different opinions.

This is so meta...
This is so meta...

Whatever you do, being right or being wrong, you’ll learn. That’s also one reason why I decided to write again. It’s so great to share stuff with the world and learn at the same time.

Vincent Battaglia © 2021