Ah, writing. Such a mysterious, maligned, battered, contorted craft. Anyone
can do it. I once saw a show about a bonobo who could type.
Are you still with me? That first paragraph was pretty long.
It's OK, I'm a bit of a scanner myself—headlines, bullet points, things
that are bold or shiny. Which stinks, given that I write for a living. Sigh.
There's never been a worse time in history to have a job that hinges on
stringing together words in a pleasing, purposeful manner. Writers used to
be held in high esteem.
I bet that on career day in ancient Mesopotamia, the kid whose dad carved
Hammurabi's Code held his head high and couldn't wait for his old man to
regale his jealous classmates with tales of cuneiform glory—and babble on.
The other problem with writing today is you. Not you, specifically. It's
all of us. Our minds have become warped, our attention spans obliterated by
the relentless onslaught of distractions, screens, social media and content
we all must endure.
humans' concentration powers have been deemed worse than those of
goldfish, do words really matter anymore?
Hail, mighty visuals
You've probably heard that most people are visual learners, drawn by the
F-shaped reading pattern
or perhaps even the pompously named
picture superiority effect. You know
infographics get shared like crazy
and that our
social media overlords are doing their darnedest to kill the written
to make way for video—the darling of the content world.
Yes, words are under fire, my friends. Visuals are a mighty force to
I've seen it firsthand. On our blog,
image-heavy posts always get more traffic and interaction. You've probably
noticed a similar trend: People favor striking photos, gifs, punchy memes,
quizzes, emoji and elegant design over plain old text.
Our brains love images and process visual information with ease. So, should
we all just take our words and go home now?
[FREE GUIDE: 10 ways to improve your writing today. Download now.]
Not so fast
My boss says design supersedes copy in terms of importance. He also says
design and copy are inextricably linked and interdependent, like a
swimmer's arms. Words and visuals are symbiotic.
In content marketing, great copy still makes a profound difference. Words
inspire, motivate, uplift, educate, provoke, break the ice or, at times,
scare away. Good luck landing any new business with an error-riddled
website, or recovering from a
tragical(ly hilarious) typo. Marketing messaging matters.
Writing, of course, is about more than words. Good writers and editors are
often those invaluable Swiss Army knife,
T-shaped employees. They bring insight and influence a suite of companywide culture and
Writers humanize your content marketing, and build genuine connections with
your audience—which is the ultimate goal, right?
Don't be daunted, writers of the world. Despite our audience's
screen-warped goldfish brains and greatly diminished attention spans, words
still have power and great value. The trick is getting people to read them.
For now, at least, words still matter.
Robby Brumberg is the marketing content manager for