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May 26, 2021

Why the written word is still important

By Morgan Lee, Storyteller & Wordsmith

Pardon my trip down nostalgia lane, but I remember a time when I eagerly picked over the bones of Saturday’s college football games in the Sunday morning paper.

Even if I attended a particular showdown, it was almost as if it did not count in the standings until I saw how it was all hashed out in black and white, the splash of a full-color photo offsetting a towering headline and a local columnist either lauding or bemoaning the head coach to the heavens.

Now, those same columnists track games in real time on social media and offer steaming hot takes by the second (yes, I am young enough that some of those exact guys are still, barely, working!). Meanwhile, thousands of other non-professionals pile on with their own tweets or Facebook posts of wisdom on why coach X blew it, or why coach Y – despite the fact he’s only in his fifth season as a head coach – will NEVER win the big one. And, while there is still newsprint available, it is more endangered by the day. The device is now king for the latest word in news and entertainment.

That is why just about everyone else has a podcast, a Youtube or TikTok channel, a Switch account or an Instagram feed dedicated to the object of their obsession – be it a sport/team, movies, politics, UFOs… the list goes on. And that does not even consider all the businesses vying for your interest on all manner of social media platforms and across the web.

It can all become a bombardment of the eyeballs. And while some of it is entertaining, much of it can also make you draw some sharp conclusions, specifically that there is too much to wade through and that the written word – a well-written word that is – is dead.

Instead of despairing at the state of modern mass media or giving up on the written word, however, perhaps take a second to step back and allow me to present why writing – and employing people who understand and know how to write – is important.

Not everything is videos and memes. And writing, especially concise and insightful print – even if it is digital – still holds a significant place in the modern world. That goes for individuals, as well as organizations. And while it may seem harder to sort through the seemingly endless offerings out there, as compared with decades past, the good stuff still shines through and makes a difference.

Think about what writing does for the individual.

It can help you do things as self-important as sorting through individual concerns. Try it the next time you face a concern; write out your problems and then write out possible solutions. It can help you sort through each step of the process and clarify the entire process.

Writing for yourself can also help you achieve your goals. Indeed, it is a proven fact that writing out your goals – whatever they may be, and I’m talking about from the mundane to the life-defining – actually helps accomplish them. There’s simply something concrete about putting something down on paper (or screen). This also applies to helping you organize your thoughts. If you have ever brainstormed ideas for anything – either as a group or alone – writing clear and concisely will keep you on track and make those ideas seem more real.

For instance, writing out a plan – whether it be for how you want to start a business, create a new position within your company, conduct a marketing campaign or anything and everything between – better allows you to explore all options surrounding the issue in question. That is because, for so many people, writing things down actually allows them to visualize what they hope to achieve and how that will occur. Talking about it may or may not help but writing it down is certain to provide more a more vivid and clear thought process.

And those are just some of the immediate and practical reasons why writing is still an important factor in your daily life. In a larger sense, writing also still has an immense effect on our culture.

There is still something about seeing something in print that makes an impact. So, when journalists and bloggers (though maybe not so much this one!) publish an article, it can still make an enormous impact. It is why – despite shrinking circulations – trained journalists are able to influence politics and sports to this day.

Even something as short and simple as a social media posting – if written in an impactful manner – can drive how people around the globe think. And it is why so many marketing companies continue to employ experienced wordsmiths. Because determining the right wording can make the difference between success and failure of a campaign.

The same goes with anything that is communicated. Since podcasts, broadcasts and even speeches are largely born as words on a page, before being spoken, it is important to know how to turn your thoughts into something that is easily understood while also pleasing the eye and the ear.

That is why it is important that all writers know the value of clarity and flexibility. If you know what you are trying to accomplish and the audience you are trying to reach and can do so with a vocabulary that activates the mind, you will be sure to be a success.

Times change, the newspaper may be a fading force (which hurts for so many of us), but that does not mean that print is not still powerful. And if you put an emphasis on intelligent writing and communication you will still see a difference in whatever you pursue.