Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We're all writers.

As a society we have eliminated generalists in favor of people who specialize in a narrow band of "expertise."

We see this most obviously in the medical profession. There are no "general practitioners" anymore. If your left nostril is stuffed, you can probably find an ENT who deals most specifically with that particular orifice.

Specialization has given us permission to be largely dumb.

We don't need to know the fairly basic stuff that previous generations knew. There are specialists for that.

Everyday I run across people who cannot write.

Simple expository writing should not be a specialist skill.

In an era where no one is ever more than an axe's length away from a keyboard, writing skills should be universal.

Last week I was sent copy from a "social media and platform specialist." I received the copy 20 minutes before it was to be presented to the client. The writer's spelling was--there's no other word for it--atrocious.

More words were spelled wrong than were spelled right.

I tried to stop the meeting.

But the work had already been emailed to the client.

I was livid and immediately sent an apology to the client.

It was horrendous.

Of course no one wanted to join me in drumming this so-called writer out of the agency.

Instead she was excused because she is a "social media specialist," not a writer.

I'll make this simple.

If you write, you're a writer.

If you're unfamiliar with a word, look it up. In most cases looking a word up takes less than 30 seconds.

Read your work over before you send it.

Read it backwards if it's going to a client. You notice mistakes easier that way.

If you're worried that you can't write, read a book on how to write.

Verlyn Klinkenborg's "Several Short Sentences" is a good place to start. http://www.amazon.com/Several-Short-Sentences-About-Writing/dp/0307266346/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351916407&sr=8-1&keywords=verlyn+klinkenborg

Read good writing. It's the best way to learn to write.

Nike has spent the last 40 years or so telling us we're all athletes.

Even if we do nothing more than an occasional jog around the reservoir we accoutre ourselves with hundreds of dollars of athletic gear.

Well guess what?

We're all writers.

So learn to write well.

You don't have to be a Joseph Mitchell, an A.J. Liebling or a Mike Berger.

But you do need to be able to organize your thoughts and present them in an intelligent manner.

That's called being professional.

Being a grown-up.

Grow up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She didn't bother doing a spell check in whatever program she had written it in? Sack the slag on the spot.