Writing is one of the most original, creative disciplines
and art forms. From ancient marks/symbols on
limestone (e.g., Sumerian tablets, hieroglyphics by the
Egyptians and the Chinese script of the Shang
dynasty) to further developed writing by the Mayans
and the emergence of the Phoenician and Greek
alphabets, humans have been creating in written form
for thousands of years. My point is not to portray an accurate history of writing.
For an easy to read, expert historical primer on the history of writing consult University of
Texas at Austin, professor emerita Dr. Denise Schmandt-Besserat’s article, The Evolution of
Humans have been communicating since the beginning of time. Thanks to creative,
industrious and innovative minds throughout history we have evolved from stone tablets,
papyrus and paper, the Royal Typewriter, IBM Selectric, to computer keyboards, laptops,
smart tablets and phones. Woof, we just zoomed through thousands of years. And yet, we
still need the written word whether it’s in digital or page
The need for good writers has never been greater.
Stimulating, encouraging and empowering interest in the written word with children during their formative years is vital. Good writers are readers. Preschool and elementary education anchored in producing strong
readers gives birth to strong writers and thinkers.
Think of all the options available to writers today: ad copy, technical manuals, billboards, novels, poetry, digital media (web/social/professional/blogs, thought leadership papers),
textbooks, legal, environmental, medicine, manufacturing, journalism, theatre, and on and on. The possibilities for good writers are endless.
Writing for digital media is different than writing a novel, or vehicle owner’s manual. A
novelist has the advantage of time and a near endless word count. A copywriter for
television ads, or VO copy has a time and word limit. A technical writer must focus on
complex details and have a strong grasp of the subject matter. A broadcast journalist
writes differently than a newsprint writer. While they are similar, screenwriting and
playwriting are different.
Digital design writers must write for the eye, ear and screen. They have word and time
limits. They must employ key words, phrases, and tags for SEO. Digital design writers have
to read a lot.
You cannot write content for a website without reading about the client’s history. You need to interview the client and get a firm grasp on their mission, vision, products/services and corporate DNA. You are writing more than content/copy, you are telling a story in conjunction with the designer(s) visual story. You have to write eye-catching content that compliments the “look and feel,” of the site design.
Beyond reading for subject matter and content, digital design writers have to read everything from news article, blogs, websites, e-zines, novels, poetry, history, and articles/books related to their craft. Like actors and poets, writers have to be exposed to a variety of content and subject matter to stimulate the creative process. Hence, the strong demand to be students of culture. Meeting and talking to different people is vital. It stretches you as a person and as a writer. Being a good listener and developing critical listening skills is a must. Reading, listening, engaging conversations and cultural observations will fill you with lots of ideas and creativity. Good writers read, listen and engage subjects, or positions with which they disagree as well as those they affirm. Writers need balance.
You can tell when you are not stimulating your creative thought process because your well
runs dry on projects. This is why it’s so important to take breaks and walk away from a
project. Do whatever you need to do to stimulate the creative process. Did you know
walking has been proven to stimulate creativity? Some writers do crossword puzzles,
color, watch a movie, read a good book, or article, play a video game, or work out, just do
whatever you need to do to stimulate the process and don’t apologize for it. One of the best
ways to stimulate creativity is to play with children, or observe children playing. Children
say the darndest things and they have yet to take life as seriously as adults. Children are a
treasure trove of content and ideas.
Good writers keep a pen and journal handy. They write things down before they forget
them. They wake up and grab the pen and pad from their bedside and jot a few notes
before going back to sleep. Countless numbers of stories, lyrics and poems were written
with the notes someone wrote down on a napkin, or scratch piece of paper. Those notes, or
ideas become the launch pad for something bigger.
Like athletes and artists every writer has his/her own process and style. Trying to be
someone else never works. The sooner you develop your own style the better. Blogging is
one of the best ways to work on your craft. You can blog away mistakes provided you have
engaging content. Don’t worry, someone in the blogosphere will be more than happy to
point out your mistakes. Don’t take it personally. Learn and grow from it.
Every writer worth her salt welcomes constructive criticism and edits. You don’t learn,
grow, or improve without it. Writers are human and they make mistakes especially when
they proof their own work. A second pair of critical eyes is invaluable. Digital design firms
aren’t looking for perfect writers because they don’t exist. They are looking for great
storytellers who are willing to embrace edits and changes to their content.
Writers work your craft, hone your skills, read, play and open your ears. You will be
amazed at the results!
Monty Carter, Storyteller
102 Trade Street
Greer, SC 29651