2 Flavors of Better Writing

Here’s two flavors of writing. They’re not the only flavors, and they’re not mutually exclusive, but they’re worth contrasting.

  1. Writing as investigation. Writing as an attempt to understand the world, as the world changes in real-time. Writing as inquiry into the mysteries of consciousness and human behavior. Writing as art.
  2. Writing as a business model. Writing for social media. Writing for retweets, shares, a higher Twitter following and more Engagement. Writing as Content.

To get better at either type of writing, you need…to get better at writing. But “better” means something different depending on what kind of writing you’re doing.

Better could mean…

  • Easy on the eyes (one or two sentences per line)
  • Easy on the brain (as simple and clear as possible)
  • Dumbed down
  • Regurgitates ideas from popular writers and calls it “summarizing”
  • Clickbaity
  • Politically lopsided and devoid of any nuance
  • Complicates matters for the sake of appearing nuanced
  • Engineered for Engagement
  • Engineered to provide the most Value (without any idea as to what constitutes Value)

Personally, I don’t think any of those characteristics constitute better writing. But hey, clickbaity one-sentence-per-line dumbed down writing works, if that’s truly what you’re after.

Here’s the other flavor.

  • Well-researched
  • Complicated and deep yet interesting and readable
  • Funny yet serious (or serious yet funny)
  • Beautiful without trying hard to be so
  • Built on paragraphs instead of one-liners
  • Wants to avoid mistakes but isn’t afraid of making a few
  • Doesn’t claim to have all the answers
  • Doesn’t call itself ‘expertise’
  • Borderline narcissistic yet self-deprecating

You can make a writing based business out of the first flavor, out of simple writing.

And you can make a writing based business out of the second flavor, out of 2,000 word essays on literature and psychological phenomena. Before setting out to write, consider asking yourself: Am I trying to engineer Engagement like some spritely young freelance Social Media manager, or am I trying to probe deeper into the collective unconscious to uncover the root of our productivity-obsessed narcissism?

Pick your poison.

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