Every other person today with a phone and online presence is a self-proclaimed content creator. Content extends to many realms, and one of the cornerstones of it is writing. The written work is a skill - one which can be learnt to a certain degree, though the words read best when there is a natural underlying passion.
You’ve seen the job listing: copywriter or content creator wanted. Must be able to write all types of content, work well with deadlines, and take a vested interest in the topic at hand. Sometimes, that job spec includes a whole lot more than the realm of content creation, and sometimes just one writing sample will do. So, how do we navigate this predicament, where writers are needed, yet the skill and value of their craft is generally misunderstood and undervalued?
“Sex and the City” writer Candace Bushnell was recently quoted in The New Yorker as saying:
The Creativity and Skill of Quality Writing
This brings to light a pertinent issue for writers - just because Google can guess the rest of my sentence and people have access to laptops, does that make them a writer? How about a good one? Let’s take a look at what constitutes the art of writing. And yes, it is an art.
A vague term, but communication really is the crux of writing. That said, writing is something often done in solitude, in a dialogue with one’s inner voice and thoughts. When you read something, you’re getting insight into someone’s mind’s eye. It’s not communication in its truest sense because there’s no back and forth, but communication is certainly needed to perform the job.
By definition, communicating is the sharing of ideas. That is what the written word has done for centuries. But writers need to communicate with their editors and managers to ensure they’re converting the right message at the right time to the right people. That, plus the ability to receive criticism is key.
Communication is the perfect segway to storytelling. Writers can quite literally explore the depths of wonderland, and find ways to share this with their audience. To capture the attention of the reader, sustain it, and leave a lasting impression is the ultimate goal. Anyone can write about how the chicken crossed the street, but few people can paint the picture in a way that is truly compelling - you need context, delivery, and interest that is peaked and sustained. Sure, you add a generic punchline, but the effect of that will be minimal in the long run.
While the ability to string together words into compressive sentences seems relatively easy, there is a lot of technical skill involved. Writing in the active voice, for example, can change the way a message is conveyed, as can the use of literary devices. Being cringey with word choices can actually have an opposite and unintended effect.
It’s not only the words but the structure too. Being able to work with specific keywords and according to word counts requires skill in terms of structure as well. If you’re trying to convince or inform, you need to lay out the information in a way that makes sense. That can change everything. This also applies to the connotations that certain words have.
Behind the words of writers is a plethora of research. Fictional or not, anthropology plays a role. Observing people - the way they are and the way they live are very telling and can inform good writing. Not only that, but writers have often incurred wisdom across a variety of topics. You can jump from topics on the daily, delving into one topic and then moving to the next. This is why writers need to write, but they need to live to be able to truly write. In the same breath, they also need to stay up to date as writing that is out of touch with missed references can fall flat quickly.
The ability to turn a concept into a full-fledged message is a skill. There are voices at play, too - the writer’s voice, which you can pick up when reading their work, as well as the tone of voice that their words are set to convey. The choice in wording and delivery can play a big role in how something is understood and perceived. In an overly sensitive and politically correct society, this is especially important to get right.
Let's talk creativity, because this is an intangible quality that can completely transform any pursuit in content. When you need to stand out among the sea of competition, you need to encapsulate audiences with new ideas. Being able to access that part of the brain and put a new spin on things can be challenging, but for writing (good writing, that is), it is a requirement. Being able to easily tap into conceptual ideas that you can visualise and communicate through the written word is something that sets apart one’s work and resonates with people. It’s what gives writers that coveted “flair.”
The Final Word
That wraps up the value of writing today. Something many can do, but few can do well. While it can be learnt, it is something that requires a specific type of thinking and a culmination of the skills mentioned above. Writing is a way of being, a way of living, and something that extends to every lived experience. The writers you work with hold immense influence on your content marketing and therefore your brand, so be sure to choose wisely! Look for skill, creativity, and work ethic for a winning combination.
Do you need quality content? Turn to the team at Nexa. Let us know what you need to get started.