Thanksgiving, Day 20: Being Able to Write

The internet has democratized content creation, and, to paraphrase Theodore Sturgeon, 90% of it is crap. Maybe it’s because education standards have fallen or because people don’t read as often as they used to, but a lot of the blogs I read and sites I visit – even the professional ones – feature really bad writing. People have no sense of the flow of language, how it makes you feel or how it works when you scroll down the page. They type what they think and then hit “PUBLISH,” not giving a second thought as to whether or not what they have put up on the internet is actually their best work. Even setting aside grammar and spelling errors that no one should make [1], a lot of it just isn’t all that interesting or appropriate for the point the author might be trying to make.

While I’m certainly not going to try and put forth myself as an expert on how to write, I can at least say that I’ve been doing this long enough to have a good sense of how to not screw it up. I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, and even when I was a kid I practiced writing. I tried adapting comic books to text, wrote my own stories, and eventually ended up becoming a serial book reviewer. As soon as the internet became A Thing, I took to it like fish to tartar sauce – I wrote flash fiction, essays, arguments, all kinds of things. I started my own homepage after college, joined LiveJournal when it was still popular, and have maintained a written internet presence for ages.

Being able to write well takes practice, and lots of it. It takes observation of others, to see what you might want to emulate and what you want to avoid. It takes a certain amount of self-awareness, to know when what you are doing needs to be tweaked, revised, or in some cases thrown out entirely.

More importantly, though, it allows me to express myself. It allows me to take the ideas that spark and flash and smolder and effervesce in my head and organize them. It lets me lock them down and look at them from different angles until I know what they are and what they mean. Writing, in this sense, isn’t just the act of putting words in order, but rather of putting thoughts in order. And of all the skills I could have asked to have, that ability has been a mighty useful one.

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[1] And it is at this point that I start getting email from people about the grammar and spelling errors in my posts….

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3 comments on “Thanksgiving, Day 20: Being Able to Write

  1. Kristina says:

    [1] First sentence of the second paragraph. “not going o try and put”. I believe you might be in need of a “t”.

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