Recently, at a team workshop, we sat down and got to the core of what it is that we really do as writers at Writers. And surprisingly – words didn’t come into it.
Writing is at its most basic interpretation, a craft. When I’m working on a piece, I see my words as building blocks within my sentences, working together to form paragraphs with a clear intention. Anyone can tell when something flows, and when something doesn’t. But writers know how to tell you something. Build on it. And captivate the reader in a satisfying crescendo.
These days, everyone seems desperate to tell me robots will take my job. The problem is, these people don’t understand what writers actually do. And yeah, maybe it’s sort of our fault.
The sheer amount of meaningless content being taped together with buzzwords at a moments notice and flung into the ether (with some undernourished writer praying it sticks, somewhere, anywhere), is enough for anyone to throw up their hands and declare the art of writing lost. “But what will you do?” said every person I told about my creative writing degree.
“Write,” I said.
“But what will your job be?”
There’s a tendency to imagine writers as tragic poets, sipping whisky alone at the bar. But the truth is good writers are just people who can use words to communicate complex ideas in a simple way. People who can read something, understand it, and express it differently to connect readers emotionally to a message. Translators.
Last year, the team motto at Writers was “don’t add to the crap.” It still hangs in our office, above my desk, reminding us to always write meaningfully, without wasting the reader’s time. But this year, when we thought about it further, we came up with something better.
“Connect the dots.”
When you hire a writer, you’re hiring more than a wordsmith. You’re bringing someone on board that understands people, and intrinsically knows how to reach them. A deep-thinker who has read broadly – providing that context for dot-connecting so they can create something bold and original. A problem-solver who knows when to grab and save an idea (or phrase) to leap from in the future.
Writers are emotionally intelligent people who can express themselves clearly. They can kill their darlings. And most importantly, they can connect the dots that exist between people who want to say something, and those who need to hear it.
I don’t think robots can do that, yet.