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Why good writing is always relevant

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?

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While digital and social media penetration is at an all-time high, this is no excuse to neglect long-form writing. Often, it is this type of writing that you can actually keep and reread. In the digital age, the news and information cycle refreshes at breakneck speed that the details people pick up there lingers only until the next cycle. Long-form writing provides context, analysis and layered depth to the way information is shared, thus the need for such type of writing.

Also, for future reference, in-depth and long-form articles provide more zeitgeist and historical context for information one intends to produce with a longer shelf life. For a piece of information to stand the test of time, it has to be written to stand the test of time.

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.

But a good hook is only the start of the challenge. The next phase is to sustain that interest, to create writing that hews as close to actual spoken communication as it can. Writing is just another form of message delivery and obviously, the most effective way to reach an audience is to talk in front of them. Learning to write in a way that produces some sort of tone and rhythm in the way readers read your work is the key to prolonged engagement.

Writers must also learn to create images instead of spoon-feeding a visual or an emotion. Show, don’t tell.

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?

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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.

Ochoa will facilitate another run of “Effective Writing: Writing with Impact” on Aug. 15-16, 2019.

The hands-on and interactive course is ideal for people whose line of work heavily involve writing, such as marketing or communications professionals. This will help them improve their writing skills for better engagement and interest.

Ochoa will also conduct a one-day writing course in Cebu City in September.

The Inquirer Academy is at 4168 Don Chino Roces Ave. corner Ponte St., Makati City. For more information about the workshops or if you would like to add your input on the article, you may email [email protected], call (632) 834-1557 or 771-2715 and look for Jerald Miguel or Karl Paz, or visit the website at www.inquireracademy.com.

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