I’ve always considered myself a good writer. I got straight-As in high school English and literature classes, and have been writing a lot in nearly every one of my jobs since college. I can write anything for business: proposals, status reports, white papers, strategy documents, and anything else you can throw at me. It comes pretty easily, when I’m motivated; even when I’m not, writing is never a chore. I think I’m pretty good with grammar and spelling, and I know the difference between Sentence case and Title Case, among other writing fine points that many, many of my colleagues (even superiors) don’t really understand.
But I’ve never thought of myself as a “writer.” I can write. But I didn’t call myself a writer.
Just the other day, as I was working on a blog post, it struck me. I like to write. I’m good at it. I’ll bet I’m probably in the top 1% of people in terms of writing skills and comfort. By golly, I might just be a writer. And you know what? Blogging and Twitter made me a writer.
I’ll bet, if you’re a consistent blogger or Twitterer, you probably feel the same.
So why are we better writers now than we were a few years ago?
First of all, becoming good at something takes practice. In this new world of microcommunications, we are all writing far more than we ever did when the phone was our standard means of communicating. We write Tweets, Facebook updates, and texts every day, plus countless emails. Many of us also write blogs or Tumblrs. That’s all on top of the stuff we write for work, for school, or just for fun. I wish I could find a study on this (I looked – do you know of one?), but I’m sure that the total number of words produced today far outstrips whatever we were producing even just five or ten years ago.
Next, new forms of writing, with Twitter leading the pack, are forcing those of us who use them to become more concise, action-oriented writers. Making better word choices, including a call-to-action in our writing, and better self-editing impacts how we write outside of Twitter as well. I’ve definitely noticed this in the past few years in all of the forms of writing that I do.
Additionally, blogging in particular can help create your writing voice, bringing consistency across all of the writing that you do. I started my personal blog in 2005, and have been an active blogger ever since. With all that practice in these past six years, I’ve noticed that my voice stays pretty consistent across various blogs and projects, whether personal or professional, which I think is good (some may prefer to have different voices for different things). Of course, there’s a spectrum: more casual for personal stuff, less so for work stuff, but overall, if you know my writing, you can see a thread across all that I write. This makes writing a lot easier for me, as I’m not creating a voice every time I sit down to write; I already know how I sound and feel comfortable expressing myself in that voice.
The impact of all this writing could have an immensely positive effect on future generations, too. Consider the multitudes of kidbloggers who are writing every single day on a wide variety of topics, including books, politics, fashion and more. Granted, kids may no longer learn how to write cursive, but they’re certainly learning their way around a keyboard.
At this point in my life, I write every single day. I might only write 140 characters (times five or ten most days), but I write. I write a two-paragraph email. I write 700 words for a blog post. Three pages for a proposal. Or a competitive analysis in PowerPoint. I now have all of those outlets for expressing my thoughts on a page (web, electronic or paper), and it stretches my brain in a good way to make that writing, whether personal or professional, as useful, succinct, and clear as I possibly can. For me, my writing skill is no small part of what enables me to earn a good living.
How does writing help you?