Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Unobsoletable

Roy Jacobsen provides yet another reason to learn how to write better over at Writing, Clear and Simple. Excerpts:
Recently, a small print shop in my city closed because the owner was retiring. He sold some of his printing equipment to another printer, but he said that one of his machines was destined for the scrap heap: his Linotype machine. Modern printers never use Linotype anymore. The technology is obsolete. And so is the skill of operating a Linotype machine. ...

You could fill a hefty book with a list of skills that the business world once valued highly, but that are now only seen as antiquated curiosities. Skills that are closely tied to a specific technology are only in demand as much as that technology is.

Some skills, however, are not tied to technology, and are thus change-proof, or unobsoletable. ...

The skill of using words well, the ability to write a message that gets results, is change-proof. No matter how much technology has changed, the basic principles of writing have remained constant. Your ability to write will never become obsolete.
Read the whole thing. There are days when I need a little encouragement, another motivation to keep plugging away at this peculiar hobby, and I think Jacobsen provides one here. And there are others, too. The ability to string words into a sentence and sentences into stories aids you in everything from small talk to speechmaking, from the ability to tell a good joke to typing a coherent email. So worry not when the rejection slips roll in: We still have our reasons.

(Picture: CC 2007 by
ornoth)

7 comments:

Ben-M said...

I think the great thing with writing is that they all feed off each other too - I learn to communicate better with writer, to structure that communication or lead the audience on, and I tell a better joke and give a better speech. I get better at telling humorous anecdotes and delivering better ad-lib speeches and I find the process of communicating on the page also becomes easier.

I still have my days when I can hardly string a sentence together though, so I guess I'm not out of the woods yet.

Loren Eaton said...

Agreed on both the synchronicity of writing with various forms of communication as well as those trip-all-over-your-own-tongue days. When I'm having one of those, I generally decide another cup of coffee (or three) is in order.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

This is great. :) I always try to remember the reason I chose an English degree over an Art degree - English would help me communicate better because no matter what I choose as a career, starting with an English degree would probably help me the most.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh, and it's sad that I don't know what a Linotype machine is...

Loren Eaton said...

I keep telling myself that I studied Literature because I love it. Alas, that doesn't help the paycheck much.

Apparently, a Linotype machine was (appropriately enough) an early 20th century method of typesetting. (I didn't know what it was either.)

Scattercat said...

Everyone needs it but no one realizes how much is, I think, how I've heard writing skill described.

Loren Eaton said...

That's a good way to describe it. Also, no one realizes how much effort it takes to get good at it.