It's the Big Things

A number of years ago, an acquaintance of mine on Facebook, connected by our hometown, received some awful news. His younger brother, only 21, had overdosed and passed away. He reached out to me, because he was the only real family his brother had, and asked me if I could write a eulogy for him. "Don't make it religious, just spiritual, if you can." And so I did. He got back to me the week after the funeral, in tears, thanking me for what I'd written. I thought about that a lot while designing this course, because no matter our schooling or practice, there will come a time when we are asked to write.

Why It Matters

Over the past forty years, from texting to the internet to social media, the world has become more tightly knit. It has changed our education and our access to information to the point where we simply type what we want to know in a box and expect an answer. And yet, when it comes to those moments, the eulogy, the wedding, the new job, writing matters more than ever.

"They Don't Read Anymore!"

For people of a certain vintage, when we see kids on their phones all the time or in front of a screen, kids who are much less likely to pick up a book, we make this assumption that writing is less important than it used to be. “They don’t read any more, Stephen,” one of my older colleagues said to me recently. Except… it’s not true!

We Write More Than Ever

Never, in the history of humankind, has our species ever written more or has writing been more important. Never. There was a time when employees did not write their bosses, they stopped in to see them. Now? Well now it’s going to be an email. Emails sent to everyone in the office or the school or the union. And you’re expected to respond in similar fashion. It doesn’t matter who you are, that is the expectation.

Let’s take this back to writing. Are you a business owner? Okay, so then you need a website. Who is writing your material on that website? Do you have a blog? Do you want to write a review? Are you a student? Are you applying for a job? Do you want to file a complaint? The list is endless. Writing well has never been as important as it is now. And here’s the kicker. We don’t teach it in school. Oh, we teach the basics of reading and writing. As an educator who has worked in schools for over twenty years, however, I can tell you the only writing taught in schools is either formal, like an essay, or creative, learning how to tell a story. Our education system, as it always is, is behind on the practical forms of writing, particularly short forms, the ones that dominate society.

A Bigger Toolbox

When a kid graduates high school or university, their toolbox for writing well is small. And most of what they’ve learned will never be used. Remember that calculus course you took in high school? No? Me either. How about organic chemistry? No? Me either.

Everything is Online

Everything is online. And while people read and write more now than they ever have, the quality of writing has gone down, but that’s to be expected because everyone is writing. Everyone. And so very few have had any training. Think about it. Most adults have not taken a class since high school or college. And there were no practical writing courses in college, even if you studied English Literature.

Writing is not Taught in Schools

And what’s happened is that not only are we writing more than ever, the amount we are taught in schools has diminished. I've been an educator for over twenty years, and I can tell you that it simply isn't taught. Oh, you'll learn basic grammar. And in high school you may study English. And plays. And do formal essays. But that is NOT writing. And yet the assumption remains that we should all be capable of writing a clean letter to our boss, or to our clients, or our constituents, or whomever. Or we think our child should be able to write an essay without difficulty because they’ve taken a few English classes. We assume that we can write what we need to and do it well, because, well, we’re always writing or texting or commenting.

Writing Influences Everything

The technological revolution has made it imperative we know how to write and do it well. It influences everything from the jobs we get to promotions to opportunities for people in our family. When I was a kid, not everyone needed the ability to write to succeed. That wasn’t the way of the world. But that is no longer true. Writing has become an essential tool for everyone. All of that is to say this: now, more than ever, writing well is not only valuable, it’s essential. I’ve taught a variety of writing courses over the past twenty years, and even in that time it’s crazy how much things have changed and continue to do so. Huge changes in society can mean good things, but we must adapt to them. It does us no good to be left behind.

Let's Go!

My hope is that in walking this journey with me, you’ll been able to add to this important skill set. And remember, these courses will always be available for you to re-watch. The information I’ve provided will remain as templates and blueprints in whatever you’re trying to do. With all that then, let’s get to work and have some fun together.