Monday Motivation: Respect, bro
Today I want to pay my respects to those of us – those many millions of us, around the world – who in some way or another wield the written word in the course of our daily lives.
I’m not talking about the megastars – the Stephen Kings and the Ian McEwans of this world, who win the big prizes, and head the best-seller lists.
No, today I’m addressing those of us who write… anything. Technical manuals for mine processing equipment. Advertising copy. Corporate newsletters. Academic papers. Creative fiction that we know will never be published, but that we can’t stop ourselves writing because that’s what we are, we’re writers.
Writing might not be in our dna – but it’s about as close to dna as you can get. Our speech centre – the source of all the words we’ve ever uttered – is an evolutionary quirk of the last few hundred thousand years, visible as an impression in the fossilized skulls of our ancient ancestors.
Writing exercises the same intellectual muscles that speaking does – and gives the writer who delights in choosing the right word for the right occasion the same joy that a speaker gets when he coins a freshly-minted bon mot.
And whatever it is you’re writing – the instructions to a microwave oven, an affidavit you plan to present to a magistrate, an email aimed at drawing your achievements to the attention of an indifferent executive – you’re using words to convey meaning.
You can do this badly, leaving the reader of that manual struggling to make sense of multiple ambiguities. Or you can do it with clarity and precision.
Good writing is not, after all, the preserve of the masters. We all swim in the same sea of language.
So let’s celebrate that simple fact and commit ourselves in a quite humble way to doing the best we can, whatever our calling.