Writing: A Decaying Skill In The New Millennium

One of the things I’ve noticed over the last few months is how in writing – these days apparent mostly in emails or in online posts, how few people have good writing skills.

At the time I told a friend that she was one of the only people in the our community band who could write so it sounds personal and colloquial, like you’re chatting face to face; with almost all other people who write emails, their writing sounds formal or awkward.

If someone can write well today, it puts them way ahead of just about everyone else.

However, the only way to develop these writing skills is (a) to know the difference between good writing and not-so-good writing, and (b) to practice it ALL the time.

I’m going to tell this to my kids. I will suggest they start keeping a blog of some sort just to give them a place to write every day. Yes, writing is something that has to be done every day, at least an hour a day, for a minimum of 5-10 years, because that’s how long it takes to become expert at pretty much anything.

If you are a musician who has immersed yourself in music for many years, you can now tell the difference between really good and not-so-good music.  This is not an innate natural gift you have, but rather the result of the years and years you’ve spent developing and honing your natural gift, which is your interest in music. The discernment you now have is developed from that interest, and the time you spent. Of course, if you want to make good music, in addition to telling the difference, it requires a lot more hard work.

It’s that way in every field of endeavor, from football to swimming to biking to cooking to carpentry to cleaning to computer programming to singing to writing music … including writing words.

It takes time to become an expert in anything, but it also takes focus. Focus on the fundamentals and the elements that make really good better than plain good. Without that focus, you have people who spend lots of time on something and think they can do it well but cannot.

Like writing. Or teaching. How many people do you suppose THINK they can write well, or THINK they can teach something, or THINK they are a good public speaker, but are wrong?

If you want to become really good at anything, better than 90% of everyone, then you have to work at it. You have to spend the time, you have to work to learn what distinguishes the really good from the not so good.

If you want to be an excellent writer, you have to write. You have to focus on making your writing better every time. You have to read what you wrote and become your own best critic.

Daily emails or social network postings just don’t hack it.

Write something worth reading. After you write it, go back and read it, asking yourself, “If someone else had written this, would I want to read it? Would I enjoy reading it?”

How good a writer do you want to be? You know how to get there. So get busy.


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