Monday, May 16, 2005

ABM and the value of writing

Inevitably, when I have to work with a truly untalented writer, that person will make a point of explaining to me how they don't have the "time" or the "interest" to bother with things like punctuation and grammar. Sometimes these people will tell me that "the copy editors will catch" their errors. Sometimes they tell me that worrying about style rules and semicolons blocks their "flow." Sometimes they argue that their clich├ęs and mixed metaphors are how they show their "creativity."
I try...and often fail...to convince such people that in order to write well, one must write with precision.
There's an example of this phenomenon on ABM's new blog.
Check out this indecipherable post about "strategic clarity."
Then read the comment section. You'll see my attempt to point out that clarity is required when writing about strategic clarity. You'll see my complaint that BECAUSE the writing was unclear, I have no idea what the writer was trying to get across.
Then read Saturday's post, in which the ABM says it doesn't want to use the blog to talk about writing, because it wants to talk about "valuable stuff" such as "strategic stuff."
Sigh.
There are two things I want to say about that:
1) I, too, like to talk about strategy. (Of the three other posts today to this blog, one is about VOD strategy). The problem is that the ABM blogger didn't write about strategy; he wrote gibberish. He only thought he was writing about strategy.
2) There are few industries in the world where writing is as valuable as strategy. B2B publishing is one of them.

2 comments:

Workest said...

This is totally subjective, but I've found blogging has improved my writing...when I see something I want to blog, I have to dig deeper into why I find it interesting, and that helps my ideas mature.

Paul Conley said...

Hi,
I'm not surprised that blogging improves your writing. As you said, it does force you to dig deeper.
It also forces us to write, to produce, to avoid procrastination.
In her book about the craft of writing, "Starting from Scratch," Rita Mae Brown urges people who want to be creative writers to get a job at a newspaper. That way "you are actively writing even if you aren't writing about a subject dear to your heart." Life at a newspaper, Brown says, will also get a writer past the defensiveness that many of us have about being edited.
In today's world, blogging and Internet publishing allows any writer to experience that same level of daily production and to experience it while writing about something that does interest them. As for editing...the endless feedback of the blogsphere is as reliable a supplier of criticism as any hard-nosed city editor.