Although many of my Gen-X contemporaries lament the writing ability of the younger generations, we also wonder if such a skill is still relevant in today’s twitter-sized media bites world. Shouldn’t everything be expressed in 140 characters or less? We asked our colleague at Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sports Editor Francis Ochoa, who conducts a workshop on effective writing applicable even for those in the corporate world, for some of his thoughts on this matter.
1.) We live in the age of bite-sized, social media ready information. Is it still relevant to learn to write paragraphs or lengthy reports?
2) How do we keep people engaged, given the shorter attention span of today’s media consumer?
Grab their attention right away. We are in the age of the omni reader, a reader so powerful that he has the ability to do the one thing no generation of readers have had: Decide to stop reading. An omni reader chooses when he wants to read, where he wants to read and what he wants to read. If we don’t lock in their focus right from the start, your article is a goner.
3) How could good writing add credibility and enhance the image of a brand?
For people with no actual or visual experience of a brand, their first introduction to it is mostly literature. If you put out literature about a brand that’s vague and bland, people will either get turned off or have little interest in giving the brand a chance. To get to an audience whose introduction to your brand is some form of literature, you want to have writing that’s full of impact and does justice to your brand.
4) Can great writing be learned, or do you have to be born with the talent?
I have never believed that people are born writers. Writers are made. Writing is a skill that is developed with hard work and repetitive—to the point of boring—practice.