Most of us aware of just how fast our world changes.
These changes affect almost everything we do. It used to be that dad and son could be backyard mechanics and keep the family car running quite well. Remember when an aged relative would occupy the spare room in a home? Writing papers for a class assignment meant nothing more than doing some research, making notes on note cards, and a handwritten or typed report.
One skill that is being directly challenged by the 21st century is writing. Few are the writers of today who can afford to sit pen in hand in a cabin drinking whiskey, and waiting for sweet inspiration. Today a writer is in a position of needing to work efficiently and quickly. Why the change? First and foremost this change needs to be laid at the feet of the digital age.
First things first: What do I mean when I say writing in the digital age? Writing is writing isn't it? Well yes and no. The role of a writer to tell interesting stories, usually in a narrative form hasn't changed much. The change that has come about is how the writer completes their work.
Writing in the Digital Age; I use this as a descriptor for how one writes today compared to 20 years ago. The art of writing remains the same as it has for all of time. What I am referring to is the ways of writing. Today, more than ever before, an increasing number of people call themselves writers. More and more these writers are making a living practicing their craft. A whole new world has been made available to the writer. Today, with the advent of computers and the internet a writer can now spend more time creating his or her story than ever before. In fact, as I will point out along the way, more than ever a writer uses process. And an important part of the process is organization.
Some will argue that they write freestyle. That is, they will take a pad and pencil and just start writing about what their mind has created. These same people will also argue that once they are bound to following a step-by-step way of writing, they can no longer be creative. To this I say baloney. Even the most freestyle of writers follows a process. The craft of writing in whatever form it takes involves a process.
Process being those steps required to go from A to B. Process can be a conscious undertaking or it can be performed at an unconscious level. Furthermore, to be able to follow the steps of a process also requires a certain degree of organization. For some this is a difficult concept to grasp. These are the writers who have steadfastly held to a certain way of writing and don't want to let go. You might hear one of them say "If it aint' broke, don't fix it." What is not accounted for are the newer, quicker, and more efficient ways to go about writing.
The cornerstone for the 21st century writer is the digital world and all that entails. Mastery of the available tools to help you write is not blasphemy. It's one of those "I told you so" stories. The ones that we all seem to have where we identify a significant modification, change, or maybe even a new way of doing something, but don't act on it. Then just down the road someone else has the same idea and makes a million with it.
This is how the tools of the digital age are. Their power and ability to accomplish what we want done is amazing. Whatever step in the process of writing you are working on, the technology of the digital age offers you a better way of getting it done. There is a title of a book that stands out as an example of the kind of action needed to become a digital age writer, "Change Your Questions, Change Your Life."
A bit melodramatic, perhaps. But in essence it is true. If you ask "How can digital age technology help me become a better writer" you will discover new ways of using it.
Why now and why this approach? As a writer of many years' experience I recently discovered that I was using tried and true writing tools from the 20th century. Thanks in no small part to the digital world, I have changed. I wanted to update the tools and approaches used by writers to reflect these 21st century changes.
Being a writer in the 21st century calls upon you to look at your passion with a fresh view. The writer of today must understand both the process of writing as well as the organization of writing. What's different in how you write today than say 20 years ago? That is the question that is the question raised by this article.
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