Is Writing Dead?

Death

Photo credit: tanakawho

I was talking to someone recently about some possibilities for presentation topics at a conference. She’d suggested a few options relating to work-life communications or social media. I said, “What I’d really love to do is a writing workshop.”

“Writing?” she asked. “Who writes anymore?”

I sort of understood what she meant. When we talk about communications, about media—social and otherwise—we’re all encouraged to think in grand terms: video, tweets, Powerpoint, info-graphics, podcasts, etc. And it’s true that any twenty-first century communications plan does have to include at least some of these media. But I still get most of my information from the written word—don’t you?

I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter, but mostly because I’ve discovered what a good source it can be of links to articles elsewhere. If I need to research a topic, or am seeking some “how-to” information, I start with Google, just like everyone else. I don’t reach for a book or head to the library. But nearly every Google search leads to written web content, a PDF, or a book.

I know we all have different favorite ways of getting our information, but I’ll bet there are plenty of others like me who, when finding that a search result links to a video, click away and move on to another link that will give me the information in writing. If I want to know how to do something, or learn more about a topic, I don’t have the patience to watch a video. A video organizes the information for me, in a way I may not want it organized, forcing me to wade through a lot of stuff I’m not interested in without being sure I’ll find the information I do want. I want a piece of text that I can search, skim, or read end to end, as I please. I want to control the pace, not have someone else’s idea of pacing fed to me in video form.

Anyway, not to put too fine a point on it, even if you are taking in your information (or putting it out) in the form of a video, podcast, or PSA, someone still has to write it first.

It’s the new year, progress marches ever forward (I suppose) but words remain timeless. Don’t be deluded by technology—whether your audience is going to find you by linking from a Tweet or from Facebook, read you on an iPhone or a Nook, or listen to you through iTunes, in the end, you generally have only words to get your point across. Remember that at one time a printed book was a technical innovation. But it still made use of the same communication building blocks used by the ancient oral poets and the monastic scribes that came before: words.

No matter how you cut it, you need words to communicate, and to communicate effectively you have to know how to use those words effectively.

Writing lives!

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5 thoughts on “Is Writing Dead?

  1. Hi Robin,

    Writing is definitely NOT dead since I spend most of my days writing Articles, Grants, Letters of Introduction etc…. I recently was told anyone under 35 no longer uses email – but then received about 30 emails from this same group….. Thought perhaps a generational issue – but my 25 year old son is Communications Director for a US Congressman and spends his days writing as does my 30 year old daughter who runs her own Health & Wellness Business…. so writing is one of those “tools” that we all need to both learn and continue to improve throughout our careers – even Tweets are a form of writing…. I recently read a blog on the 10 most common errors in using Emails – They were wonderful! (I had made all 10 mistakes in my career…. ) but they all basically came back to writing fundamentals…. – So yes, writing is alive…. the question of “well” is a topic for another Blog….

    Good job Robin!

  2. Great question but what indeed is writing? Is it the evocation of the hand written word surfeit with one’s own quirks,mood and style? Could it also signify the ability to draw pictures of possibilities in the minds of the viewer? Methinks we need to hark back to the core rather than get overwhelmed by the media options. Shakti

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