Before You Write Your Next Article...
I like to believe that writing is an art, but probably not in the way you might think. Art is in the eye of the beholder. The ability to write anything should always be based on passion, not search engine optimization or archaic rules written by a culture of education that cannot even properly define itself, let alone what excellence in authorship should be. The SEO and academic schools of writing have produced an electronic media full of mediocre, misspelled, duplicate works produced by hacks who either do not understand or do not care what they are writing about.
If you have a desire to write anything, choose your assignments carefully. No one wants to read a book, article, press release or even technical works written by someone who has no real interest in the subject involved. For example, each day I am forced to read news items authored by people who never went to the Who, What, When, Where and How school of journalism. I can read through an entire news story and still have no idea where or when a particular event took place. Add to that all the misspellings, poor grammar choices, and you have something written by someone who could care less about what they are writing.
I once heard a reasonably prominent author tell his readers that he was able to write perfect paragraphs without the need to go back and check his work. In blowing his own horn that author forgot to tell his audience that he also had another talent. He excelled at reshaping popular secular self-help book titles into works that he claimed as his own for the religious book market. I guess that if I sat there all day working off of someone else's manuscript then I, too, could write perfect paragraphs.
As a high school student taking an English course I was fortunate enough to have a former college professor as my teacher. She had fallen on hard times thanks to a spouse who cheated on her, blamed her, then used his tenure and influence to have her dismissed. With a need to eat and pay the bills, that instructor ended up teaching at my high school while she worked through all the personal problems in her life.
When I started her class my idea of writing was beyond primitive thanks to almost a decade of instruction on the tools of writing that failed to explain proper structure and ignored passion. She changed all that by teaching me some simple tips that would give anyone the ability to write anything and do it well. One of the most important things I learned from her was that everything you write represents you. Each time you write a letter, memo or anything else, it becomes your ambassador to the world and speaks for you whether you really want it to or not.
She also had a suggestion for those of us who cannot write perfect paragraphs: Read everything you write through at least three times and re-write it as many times as it takes to add to, subtract from or change your work until it tells the story you are trying to tell or makes the point you are trying to make and does so in a manner that is accurate, clear and interesting. Always be willing to accept legitimate criticism from others, but make sure that your writing represents who you are, what you have to say and that your readers understand why you are saying it.
I learned more in the two high school semesters that I spent under that college professor's instruction than I did later in college or anywhere else since. She had a passion to help people express themselves properly through writing and the ability to teach them how to accomplish that. Expression is the key and inspiration is the tool.
Nothing disturbs me more than watching how some of the major online article banks kill the creativity of their authors by encouraging them to submit watered-down, passionless junk in place of meaningful pieces that speak to people. The result is that they tend to have tens of thousands of articles with correct spelling, proper grammar and absolutely no passion or redeeming social value.
Think of what you write as a work of Art. Not in the sense of perfection, but make it inspired, passionate and personal. Words are power and have the ability to influence everyone and everything around us. While great authors eventually die, their work remains and speaks for them each time someone reads what they have written. It's not about what you choose to write, it's the way in which you decide write it. Do so with the understanding that your work represents you and it does not get more personal than that.